Sue Ferns of Prospect union becomes new TUC president

Sienna Rodgers
UNISON general secretary Christine McAnea; outgoing TUC president and Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail; TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady; new TUC president and Prospect senior deputy general secretary Sue Ferns; and Unite general secretary Sharon Graham. © Jess Hurd/TUC

Sue Ferns, the senior deputy general secretary at Prospect union, has today been elected as the new Trades Union Congress president, replacing outgoing TUC president and Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail.

The new president will serve in the role for a year and preside over the TUC Congress in September 2022. She will also chair the TUC’s general council and executive committee.

Ferns grew up in Sheffield and was the first member of her family to go to university, studying industrial relations at Salford University. After graduating, she worked for the TUC’s economics department for a decade.

Following a maternity break, Ferns joined Prospect as a research officer, before becoming head of research, then director of communications in research and from 2018 senior deputy general secretary.

Speaking after her election as president, Ferns said: “It is a great honour to be elected president of the TUC for what is set to be a vital year for workers’ rights.

“The world of work is changing rapidly in a way that creates many opportunities for improving people’s working lives – but there are also huge risks as employers implement changes to working practices often with little or no consultation with their workforces.

“It is our job as unions, and mine as TUC president and through my work with my own union Prospect, to ensure we have a laser-like focus on getting to the table so that workers can be involved in all the decisions that affect them.

“The future of work can be better than the past, but that won’t happen unless workers themselves are able to shape the changes that are coming.

“My particular focus will be on getting the best deal for members, particularly for women, in the post Covid-19 world; ensuring a just transition for workers as we move to a greener economy; and on closing the gender pay and gender pension gaps so that women can be rewarded fairly, even after they retire, for the work that they do.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We are delighted to have Sue as our president for the next year. She is an exceptional union leader – and we will need her commitment and passion as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Sue takes on the role of president at a challenging time in what looks to be a critical year for working people. I look forward to working with her to create good green jobs, and to challenge the government to deliver the just transition we so badly need.

“It’s time for a new age of dignity and security at work for everyone – women and men – and it’s great to have Sue at the helm as TUC president, leading the way.”

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