Good Cause Launch

The GFTU are launching a new lottery in the next few months and we are inviting affiliated Unions, partner organisations and friends of the GFTU to get involved. Not only is it a great idea to generate some income for the GFTU’s Educational Trust, to help us continue delivering fantastic learning opportunities for Activists, it will also benefit the people who sign up to join the lottery with generous cash prizes!

Are you interested in getting on board? Affiliates can become partners and generate funds for their own work and initiatives.

There will be a Good Causes Launch online on Wednesday 13th October at 2:00pm. Ticket sales will go live on the 16th November and the first prize draw will be on the 18th December, just before the festive break.

To find out more either watch the GFTU website or contact Ian Richards on 07903 523746 or email

A Tribute to Joe Mann

When I was General Secretary of the Community and Youth Workers Union Joe was the first General Secretary of another sister union that I invited to address our national conference. This was because of the importance of his work at the National League of the Blind and Disabled, a great union with much underestimated importance and success.

We then worked together very closely for years on the GFTU Executive. He was President when I was elected General Secretary and we were in daily contact almost for two significant years in the development of the organisation.

I remember nothing was too much trouble for him and he seemed to manage to get everywhere, often on his motorbike, on time or early. He never quite convinced me to ride pillion.

I tend to judge Presidents of the GFTU by how they deal with problems. Joe’s approach was interesting. I’d say ‘Joe, here’s the problem’, he would look very serious for a minute and say, ‘That’s not really a problem” and somehow it would disappear.

Two things stand out in my mind at this sad time. Joe’s incredible commitment to the cause of disabled workers and determination to create quality employment for them. We caught up very recently on his leadership of the Devon Co oP and he wrote a great piece for the GFTU about it.

Secondly we shared a commitment to creating a new leadership of trade unionists and Joe was the first ever GFTU President to insist that three young trade unionists take his place in chairing our Biennial Conference on the first day. It was a bold move. All three have gone on to great things.

GFTU Presidents can choose an international location for a study visit. Joe chose New York. He took us to a restaurant where to everyone’s surprise a T Bone steak cost £200. He wanted us to break bread together but nearly broke the bank. He also took us to an Italian restaurant recommended by the engineering union’s Italian leadership, they referred to it and their union and some of their employers as ‘part of the family’. We were not always quite sure what family they were referring to, but I am certainly eternally grateful that Joe was such an important member of our General Family of Trade Unions.

My deepest condolences to Diane and all the family, Rest in Peace brother.

Doug Nicholls.

GFTU General Secretary.

16th September 2021.

TUC Fringe Solidarity with the Kurdish People and the Need for Peace and Democracy

Tuesday 14 September, 12.30pm 


The Turkish government is engaged in one of the world’s most anti-democratic actions against elected representatives of the main opposition parties. This is a situation that British trade unionists are increasingly concerned about throughout the world. 

Chair: Doug Nicholls, General Secretary of the GFTU.

Speakers: Various councillors, mayors and MPs from the HDP Party in Turkey. 

Register for this event

TUC Fringe New Opportunities for Trade Union Education

Monday 13 September, 12.30pm 


New themes, new provides, new learning methods and other opportunities are opening up. This meeting will discuss the ways that trade unions are flourishing. 

Chair: Doug Nicholls, General Secretary of the GFTU .


  • Gill Westerman, CBE, GFTU Educational Trust.
  • Professor Mike Seal; Professor Peter John, vice chancellor, University West London.
  • Dr Stefan Berger, University Bochum. 
Register for this event

GFTU response to Certification Officer’s levy consultation

Trade Union Act 2015: Further Government engagement on the Certification Officer’s levy

The General Federation has supported trade unions for 121 years. We play a particular role in helping new trade unions form and develop and register with the Certification Officer’s  (CO) register of trade unions. We assist unions in remaining independent and strong able to focus on their profession and occupation area.

All of our affiliates, whether in sport, the NHS, transport, education, shipping, probation, prison services, arts and culture, finance, civil service, across the whole economy have played an essential role during the pandemic. Our affiliated Trade unions’ roles in health and safety, furlough arrangements, pharmaceuticals and vaccination programmes has been central to keeping people safe and protected and out of absolute destitution.

To have this vital trade union role now penalised with a totally unnecessary levy is a disgrace and the GFTU is opposed to it in principle. Many unions resources are depleted because of their work during the pandemic and many others start from a low income base anyway. Demands on unions in the workplace as a new period of Covid spreading and management and lifting of restrictions takes place are already increasing and union resources are being dedicated to essential work to keep members safe and ensure fundamental employment and other rights are protected.

While we are opposed in principle we also note that many details are unclear regarding implementation and this uncertainty makes any financial and other planning difficult.

We are unaware of any logical rationale for the cap at 2.5% and it is unaffordable in any event for many unions and ourselves. We note too that this additional tax on unions exceeds those imposed on giant multinational corporations. Unlike companies of course trade unions do not make profit and reinvest their income into benefits and services for members. It should be borne in mind also that the overwhelming majority of work undertaken by trade unions is voluntary. Unpaid elected representatives are engaged in representational, negotiating, health and safety and campaigning activities that have huge cost effective contributions to social and economic welfare. Other organisations in civil society such as charities and political parties do not pay levies to their regulatory bodies. We can see no evidence that the CO Is exercised by a vast workload as say for example to Electoral Commission regularly is.

  1. Following the 2017 consultation, the Government proposes excluding both the costs of external inspectors and the cost of external legal advice from the levy. Do you agree with this approach? Yes/No Are there any other significantly variable costs that should be excluded and why?

Commitments were given in Parliament in 2016 to exclude the costs of external inspectors and legal advisors and this should be upheld. Any levy is unacceptable but an unpredictable and variable one even more so.

Ways and means should be found to enable the CO and indeed unions from recovering costs in relation to demonstrably frivolous and vexatious claims that can be made by third parties. The CO should appropriately really only be able to consider complaints from within trade unions.

  • The Government proposes keeping the existing fees for listing and certificates of independence, instead of subsuming them into the levy. Do you have any comments on this approach? Does this create any unintended consequences?

There should be no levy therefore the existing registration fee should be retained. In supporting some unions through registration we have considered that the fee is high and a disincentive to some

  • These existing statutory fees have not changed since 2005, and no longer represent the cost to the Certification Officer of providing the function. Do you believe the Government should consider the level these fees are set at?
    Yes/No Do you have any views on how such a review should be conducted?

The government originally established the Certification Office and should retain fees at the current level and should not undertake a review, there are other much more pressing priorities on public expenditure.

  • Do you agree with the principle of having exemptions and a limited subsidy regime? Yes/No

Yes their should be exemptions. At a time of 26 million workers not being in unions, the development of new unions should be encouraged and this will entail from time to time exemptions. No there should not be in effect inter union subsidies.

  • The Government proposes setting the affordability cap at 2.5% of annual income. Do you agree with this level? Yes/No Please give reasons for your answer.

The cap of 2.5% proposed is extremely high, disproportionate and excessive. It would generate income far beyond the current level of operation of the CO. It is blatantly therefore unnecessary. It would generate a large profit for the CO and potentially, given the amount of work involved, carry over surpluses each year. This is not the purpose of the CO to generate surplus funds. There are safeguards in regulatory regimes in other sectors to prevent a regulatory body recovering costs which are larger than expenditure. No such safeguards appear here. Fees and any charges in most regimes are linked to consultation with stakeholders given annually fluctuating workloads.

  • Do you agree that this approach meets our objectives as set out on page 3 of this document? Yes/No Are there any unintended consequences or potential risks we should consider?

No, the proposals do not match up to the objectives set out on page three. These objectives say the proposals should be predictable and affordable. They are neither. Most of our affiliates and ourselves work on longer planning cycles than a year and no budget provision has been made for this increase. Our payments to other regulatory bodies, for example in relation to pensions where we have multi million pound responsibilities and investments are proportionally infinitesimal when compared with his levy on subscription income. We would in effect be paying the CO on this levy far more proportionally on our £200,000 affiliation fee as we do another regulator on their oversight of our management of £13m. In comparison this would be a fraction of the levy.

For any further contact on this response please contact, Doug Nicholls, GFTU General Secretary,

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