We Welcome the New GFTU General Secretary and GFTU President

We held our Biennial General Council Meeting last week from 14th-16th May and although we bid a fond farewell to the UK’s longest serving General Secretary, Doug Nicholls, we also welcomed a new GFTU President, Sarah Woolley (General Secretary of BFAWU) and a new General Secretary of GFTU, Gawain Little.

Sarah Woolley, incoming GFTU President, said, “It is an absolute privilege and honour to be the incoming President, at what is such an exciting time for the GFTU. I am really excited about the possibilities of the education programme in this new digital world, with all the tech we now have in our classrooms. 

“Our unions represent members in different sectors, we will have different views on things, but we can and must learn from each other, support each other and remember that we must never lose our collectivism. 

“Working through how we build on the fantastic young members development programme, building our community links, organising and educating in new ways, is going to be an integral part of our movement’s growth. GFTU should and will be the leading organisation in this growth, and the organisation that affiliates, and others, come to for inspiration and action.” 

Gawain Little, incoming GFTU General Secretary, said, “Our trade union movement faces very real challenges. We are experiencing a cost of living crisis, our public services have been systematically underfunded and fragmented, and Britain’s manufacturing industry, the heart of our productive economy, has been decimated. 

“But the past year has shown that we are no longer willing to sit back and take this. There is huge anger out there and it is the job of the trade union movement to express that anger and turn it into an alternative economic policy and a genuine strategy for change. 

“To do that, we need to strengthen our movement. 

“This is where the role of the General Federation of Trade Unions is crucial. Our core mission of education, solidarity and unity in action puts us at the heart of renewal for the trade union movement.” 

We thank all that attended the BGCM and hope to see you at the next one in 2025.

GFTU’s Statement on the Economy

The Executive Committee became increasingly concerned at the general mismanagement of the economy and the chronic lack of investment in real wealth creating industries and our public services. It was also concerned that the scale of the government and media misperceptions about economic issues needed to be addressed and economic awareness therefore needed to be restored to trade union education.

Consequently a number of training events were organised that sought to debunk the economic clichés, and equip trade unionist and community organisers with the tools to counter economic orthodoxies and argue for alternatives. A pamphlet was produced with the Progressive Economic Forum and the University of London SOAS on the Cost of Living Crisis and the real cause of low wages and high profits and how to find new solutions. This was then expanded into a pocket sized book with Verso press to provide and accessible guide to the economic issues of the day.

This work led the Executive to work with SOAS to consider funding projects to enable greater knowledge exchange on key economic issues of the day and propose coherent alternative economic models for the future and to propose joint working with the Confed.

In turn the Executive believed that it was appropriate to propose a major economic statement to the May 2023 BGCM to be taken forward as a central and underpinning priority in all of its work and educational events.

Read here

BGCM 2023

View the BGCM 2023 Report here.

Find out what happened at our 2023 BGCM, here.

The GFTU’s Biennial General Council Meeting is taking place from 14th May to 16th May 2023 at Quorn Grange Hotel. There will be a Gala Dinner on Sunday 14th in the evening and a special concert of brilliant performers on May 15th after a barbecue in the evening. 

Many of our supportive partners will be at the BGCM and it will provide a great opportunity for affiliates to become fully aware of the range of discounted services we offer that can really assist affiliated unions and their members in saving money and improving effectiveness. View our Win:Win partners here.

We will have a major statement on the economy from the GFTU Executive and this will be commented on by the Economics Editor of the Guardian Larry Elliott and Professor Costas Lapavitsas of SOAS University of London who share a strong commitment to supporting trade unions.

We will have important international guests to share some often overlooked issues with us.

The BGCM has taken a full report on the exceptional work of the GFTU over the last two years (see here) and importantly look forward to opening a new chapter with a new General Secretary Gawain Little and a new three person fundraising team who are seeking to create a new dynamic future and significant funding for our charitable trust. This will bring incredible new opportunities for our affiliates.

To express our commitment to nurturing a new generation of leaders, two young trade unionists Hannah Baker of the Pharmacists Defence Association and Quincy Raymond of the Communications Workers Union will chair part of our proceedings.

There will be many new opportunities opened at the BGCM as well as new educational offers and courses.

We look forward to seeing you at the event in May.

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