“A lifetime’s experience fighting for working people”

Today Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, becomes the new TUC president

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Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, has warmly congratulated Gail Cartmail on her election today (September 15) as the next president of the TUC.

Gail, who is Unite assistant general secretary, will serve in the role for a year and preside over the next TUC Congress in September 2021. She will also chair the TUC’s general council and executive committee.

“Gail has been a key member of Unite’s leadership team for the past 10 years, since her appointment as our assistant general secretary for public services, finance, energy and construction,” said McCluskey.

“She has a lifetime of experience in fighting for working people, since she first became an activist in a trade union when she joined the publishing industry as a trainee.

‘Courage and bravery’

“I hugely admire the ability, courage and bravery Gail has shown throughout her trade union career and I speak on behalf of our entire Unite family in saying how very proud I am of her election as TUC president. I know Gail will do a fantastic job, doing what she does best, standing up for equality, justice, fairness and international solidarity between workers.”

TUC’s ‘coolest President’

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady agreed with Len McCluskey. She added, “We are delighted to have Gail as our President for next year. Gail may be the coolest President we’ve had – she’s an ice swimmer! It’s a hobby that shows her tough streak, which I’ve seen in her dedication to winning for working people too.

“She takes on the role at an incredibly challenging time. Millions of people’s livelihoods are at risk while the Prime Minister hesitates on the action needed to safeguard viable jobs. And there’s little effort from ministers to enforce the safety workers need to get back to workplaces.

“We will work together to defend working people against the threat of mass unemployment. And we will campaign for government to enforce safe workplaces and to give all workers the flexibility and sick pay rights needed to beat coronavirus, so we can focus on rebuilding a stronger, fairer economy.”

‘An enormous privilege’

Gail is delighted to take up the new position and says she ‘can’t wait to get started.’

“It is an enormous privilege to be elected TUC President,” says Gail.

“I first joined a trade union aged 20 in my first publishing job, when I discovered that a male colleague doing the same job was paid more.

“It was shortly before the Equal Pay Act came in, so I challenged it with HR and was told it was because he was married, ‘with a wife’. It was a lightbulb moment. I knew about racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia, but a pay gap based on gender came as a complete shock.

“I asked my father for advice and he said ‘don’t moan at me – join a union!’ Those words are as important now as they were then, and that’s why I want to focus on two key themes during my presidency. To encourage more women to become active in their trade unions and to protect and promote the importance of young people in the workplace and help them become active in their unions. I can’t wait to get started!”

  • UNITElive is also very proud that Gail has become TUC President and we wish her every success.



You can read about Gail’s story in an exclusive UNITElive interview

Compiled by Amanda Campbell @amanda_unite

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