Brendan Barber – England

Linked with Trades Union Congress TUC – Britain at work, and with TUC New Year Message.

Brendan Paul Barber (born 3 April 1951, Southport, Merseyside) has been the General Secretary of Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) since June 2003 … // … TUC: In 1975 he got his first job at the TUC as a policy officer. In 1979 he became the head of the TUC’s Press and Information Department. In 1987 he became head of the Organisation and Industrial Relations Department and in 1993 he became Deputy General Secretary … (full text).

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber is the current General Secretary of Trades Union Congress. He took up the post in 2003, becoming only the 9th person to hold the position since its introduction in 1922. The General Secretary is responsible for the effective operation of the TUC and for leading implementation of policies set by the annual Congress and the organisation’s General Council … (TUC’s short bio) … and: (He) was born on 3 April 1951in 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 … // … 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. (full text).


Brendan Barber – England

Watch these videos:

He says:

  • Banking sector needs root and branch reform, not a review of bonuses: Commenting on the Government’s announcement today (Monday) of a review of bankers’ bonuses, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘The determination of Britain’s bankers to hang on to their bonuses show just how broken down the banking model has become. ‘We do not need a review of bonuses, but a root and branch reform of the whole banking sector and the employment of people who do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, not expect a bonus to get out of bed in the morning.’ (on e-gov monitor, 10 February, 2009);
  • ‘The determination of Britain’s bankers to hang on to their bonuses show just how broken down the banking model has become. ‘We do not need a review of bonuses, but a root and branch reform of the whole banking sector and the employment of people who do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, not expect a bonus to get out of bed in the morning’ (on commenting on the Government’s announcement of a review of bankers’ bonuses, 9 February 2009);
  • … The government has been addressing some of these issues, though we are yet to see the impact of some of the decisions that have already been made. There is still work to be done to see the banking system working — to try and get banks to lend properly. A lot of financial institutions are withdrawing to the home base to try to build up their balance sheets again. In the case of British companies, 30 per cent of the lending came from international banks. In terms of stimulating the economy and trying to keep people in their jobs, the idea is to make big investments in major public works, which the government has talked about but has not yet been able to deliver. I would attach a lot of importance to that. We still have major social housing needs in Britain. We still have many problems with transport infrastructure that need attention without making work for the sake of making work. Hence, I will kind of group the major issues in three areas — banking and financial issues, public works issues and measures in the labour market to try and help workers through these difficult times … (full interview text, New Delhi, 3 February 2009);
  • Brendan Barber, the TUC’s general secretary, has been hugely critical of the banking system and its role in causing the recession in the real economy. Last month, he even persuaded the Institute of Directors to join the TUC in calling for the reform of City bonuses. Privately, Mr Barber is understood to be telling ministers that there can be “no return” to the virtually unregulated financial system once the recession is over. However, Mr Barber is accused of “being as weak as a pint of piss” by a particularly militant trade unionist. The reason for this is that Mr Barber largely backs the Government’s handling of the financial crisis, at a time when many union members would like to see him battle to guarantee their jobs. “The union role remains to keep employers honest and make sure that they’ve thought through the money-saving options before handing employees their P45s,” says Mr Barber. “In this recession, we’ve seen more firms looking at short-term working options. For example, Honda is to shut for four months to help save jobs” … (full text, 1 February 2009);
  • … Recession must not lead to equality taking a back seat, says TUC, (full text, 9 February 2009);
  • … Brendan Barber, secretary general of the TUC, said workers were “rightly angry” at employers who have not given British based workers the opportunity to apply for new jobs but added: “The anger should be directed at employers, not the Italian workers”. (full text, 31 January 2009);
  • … “This is a terrible blow to Woolworth’s staff and to the firms and jobs that rely on the chain’s custom,” said Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, an umbrella group. “It will also mean a further dent to business and economic confidence and less spending power in the economy,” he added. (full text, 17 Dec 2008);
  • … “I do think the media characterisations of all of this are kind of ludicrous,” he says. “At the one extreme this is the government surrendering all autonomy and giving the unions a veto power over policy or it’s a totally meaningless talking shop at the other extreme. I just think you cannot win when people just reach for some of the tired old clichés about ‘the brothers are back’ and ‘beer and sandwiches’ and so on. I want us to have a modern, intelligent dialogue with the government so that we can make a good case that they will respond to” … (full long text, 6 September 2003).

Labour must show us that its love affair with the City is over, the government needs to realise that voters will no longer tolerate a government in thrall to Britain’s financial establishment, 6 October 2008.

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He writes:

  • … Undoubtedly too, the motives of the protesters and strikers are not all the same. Unions see the action as a defence of negotiated standards and a call for UK-based workers to have a fair chance of applying for jobs. Some – though it looks like a small minority, given the way that the BNP were marched off the site – see it through a Eurosceptic or even xenophobic lens. Others will simply see what is happening as deeply unfair, and will follow whoever offers the most convincing explanation and solution. Yet for all the confusion on the ground, the big issue at stake could not be clearer. This is a battle for the future shape of globalisation. Indeed it is a continuation of the centuries-old battle over how the benefits of a market economy are distributed, which has existed since the first trade unions were formed with their mission to regulate the wages and conditions of the great mass of ordinary people dependent on getting a job to earn a living … (full text, 4 February 2009);
  • … In the longer term the failure of private equity highlights two principles that should be at the heart of future economic policy. First, if something looks like a bubble, it probably is. The government should clamp down on excessively speculative activity despite the howls of protest from those hoping to get rich quick as it will serve the economy better in the long run. And second, there is no benefit to be gained by allowing new markets and business models to grow outside a regulatory framework. Wild West sectors always leave someone with a bullet in the back. In the case of private equity, it looks like being the ordinary employees of companies that would survive if their balance sheets were not full of debt who will take that hit. (full text, 1 February 2009);
  • … Low-cost, high-speed rail links are essential from the south-west and from the north, and to link Heathrow to the Eurostar network. We welcome signals from government that a new rail network would form part of its plans, as part of the longer-term solution to road transport-related noise and air quality concerns around Heathrow. The climate change impacts of aviation growth are perhaps the most overriding concern. Greenhouse gas increases from the aviation sector must be consistent with the UK and Europe’s overall climate change objectives, especially the tough challenge of cutting our CO2 by up to a third by 2020 … // … This means that any shortfall in CO2 reductions in difficult to reduce sectors, such as aviation, are offset by more rapid reductions in other industries. A balance must be struck between economic and environmental issues. This is not a time to put Heathrow jobs at risk. (full text, 14 January 2009);
  • … Most now agree that unemployment will hit 2 million before the year is out, and that will not be its peak. No sector will be immune from job losses. Once working in a bank was seen as secure – no longer. Public sector jobs are under threat from the squeeze on public spending caused both by an inevitable cut in the tax take as the economy tanks, and the increased costs of unemployment. House building is already at a near stand-still. Retail and hospitality are also already feeling the pinch. But many of the most immediate victims will be among Britain’s 2 million hidden army of vulnerable workers. They are already in precarious short-term work subject to exploitation on a daily basis. With fewer jobs to go round – and more people looking for agency and short-term work – their plight will get worse … (full text, 15 October 2008).

City has no-go areas for women, City boardrooms are often no-go areas for women, equality minister Harriet Harman has said … // … “But we are now turning away from risk-taking and greed and recognising qualities and experience that women bring to the workplace.” TUC general secretary Brendan Barber told the conference: “Equality in the workplace will not simply resolve itself of its own accord.” He added: “From flexible working requests to childcare advice and mentoring, equality reps are on hand to offer advice that is tailored to what workers need to thrive in their jobs.” For the Conservatives, shadow women’s minister Theresa May said: “It is a bit rich for Harriet Harman to be lecturing people on fairness when her government’s failure to prepare for the recession has left so many families struggling. “It is women that will be hit hardest by the recession, with the female redundancy rate increasing at double that of men.” (full text, 9 February 2009).


Human Resource Management – information for employees and employers, and its HRM Guide UK /Articles;

Bail out banks lose £3billion (listen also the video on this webpage), 14 Oct 2008;

Mediators called in as wildcat strikes spread across UK (with its 1.31 min video), 31 January 2009;

Bank of England, Court of Directors.

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