Frances O'Grady's keynote speech to TUC Congress 2013 in Bournemouth, Monday 9 September 2013
|General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress|
|Assumed office |
|Preceded by||Brendan Barber|
|Deputy General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress|
January 2003 – January 2013
|Preceded by||Brendan Barber|
|Succeeded by||Paul Nowak|
|Born||9 November 1959|
|Alma mater||University of Manchester|
Early life and family
O'Grady was born in Oxford, one of five siblings in a family of Irish descent, and was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith. Her father was a shop steward at the Leyland car plant in Cowley. She was educated at Milham Ford School, a grammar school which became comprehensive during her time there. At Manchester University, she earned a BA Hons in politics and modern history. She received a Diploma in Industrial Relations and Trade Union Studies at Middlesex Polytechnic.
She has two adult children, whom she raised as a working single parent, and currently lives in London.
O'Grady worked for the Transport and General Workers' Union, where she opposed the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board, and campaigned for a minimum wage. She became TUC Campaigns Secretary in 1994 and founded the TUC Organising Academy in 1997, a scheme aimed at supporting a younger and more representative group of workers to become labour movement organisers.
She became head of the TUC's organisation department in 1999, and was then elected as Deputy General Secretary in 2003.
She led on the establishment of the union learning organisation unionlearn, which came into being in 2006. Unionlearn works with employers, unions and government to help around 220,000 workers per year to improve basic skills and access lifelong learning.
She became TUC General Secretary in January 2013, succeeding Brendan Barber.
She has been a member of the Resolution Foundation's Commission on Living Standards, as well as serving on the TUC’s Commission on Vulnerable Employment, the Low Pay Commission and the High Pay Commission. She has campaigned prominently during the referendum on EU membership, as the TUC registered for the remain side, particularly citing concerns around the impact on workers' rights and jobs in export led industries.
O'Grady has led a protest outside Bestway, Britain's largest family owned business. In February 2013 she was, as a result of her efforts, assessed as the 11th most powerful woman in Britain by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.
- Moylan, John (10 July 2012). "Frances O'Grady, the new TUC general secretary". BBC. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- Bolderson, Claire (7 September 2012). "Profile: Frances O'Grady, the new TUC general secretary". BBC. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "Frances O'Grady on 'Trade Unions: delivering justice at work and in society'", indcatholicnews.com; accessed 28 July 2014.
- Mulholland, Hélène (6 September 2006). "The history woman". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "TUC leader Frances O'Grady: People want some hope for the future", The Guardian
- "Biographical details: Frances O'Grady". Trades Union Congress. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "Our History", unionlearn
- People's Assembly opening letter, theguardian.com, 5 February 2013.
- "Britain's unions ready to join fight to stay in European Union, top official says", Reuters
- BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list
- "Frances O'Grady". www.bankofengland.co.uk. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
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