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Speaker Biography

Brendan Barber

 Brendan  Barber
TUC General Secretary

Brendan Barber was born on 3 April 1951 in Southport, Lancashire. He was educated at St Mary's College, a grammar school in Crosby and spent a 'gap year' with Voluntary Service Overseas teaching in the Volta Region of Ghana before going on to the City University in London where he gained a BA Hons in social sciences.

After graduating, Brendan took a sabbatical year as President of the City University Students Union where, among other things, he was involved in negotiations with the Greater London Council to acquire cheap housing for students near the university campus.

His first job, after university, in 1974, was as a researcher for the Ceramics, Glass and Mineral Products Industry Training Board, based in Harrow. A year later, in 1975, he joined the TUC as a policy officer dealing with training issues and in 1976 was promoted to the post of assistant secretary in the Organisation and Industrial Relations Department.

In April 1979, shortly before the general election that saw the defeat of the Labour Government, he became head of the TUC Press and Information Department. Over the next eight years Brendan dealt with the TUC media relations at a time when union stories often dominated the news agenda, from the Stockport Messenger dispute of 1982, to the Miners Strike of 1984-85 and the Wapping Dispute. He was also closely involved in international stories relating to the TUC's dealings with unions in places from Poland and the rise of Solidarity, to South Africa where the trade unions played a prominent part in the overthrow of apartheid.

In 1987 he returned to the Organisation and Industrial Relations Department as head of department. Here his responsibilities included dealing with inter-union relations, employment law and training policy. In 1993, following John Monks election as general secretary, Brendan became deputy general secretary.
Brendan became General Secretary in June 2003. He was a driving force in the United Against Racism campaign. He has also played a prominent role in the establishment of the TUC Organising Academy - training organisers to help unions boost membership, and the Partnership Institute, whose aim is to promote partnership style relations between employers and unions.

Recently he has helped establish new negotiating machinery in the university sector and worked hard to build better relations between all the unions in the schools sector. He has worked closely with John Monks in the area of government relations.

Brendan Barber is a Non-Executive Director of the Court of the Bank of England. He was a member of the ACAS Council from 1995 until May 2004. He was also a member of Sport England from 1999 until 2003.

He lives in Muswell Hill, north London with his wife Mary, whom he met when she worked in the TUC International Department, and his daughters, Amy (18) and Sarah (16). Brendan is an avid supporter of Everton Football Club, though he also occasionally attends the home games of Vauxhall Conference side Barnet. He is also a keen golfer.


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