Christina McAnea elected first woman to lead UK’s biggest trade union Unison

(Image: Daily Mirror/Ian Vogler)

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The UK's largest union has elected the woman who led its response to the Covid-19 crisis to its top job.

Christina McAnea, who will be the first woman to hold the post, succeeds Dave Prentis, who is retiring after 20 years as general secretary of Unison.

Ms McAnea takes on the job after playing leading roles in the union's work across collective bargaining, negotiations and equalities strategy, including health and safety, pensions and procurement.

Ms McAnea said: “I’m so grateful to everyone who voted for me and for the trust placed in me. I become general secretary at the most challenging time in recent history – both for our country and our public services.

“Health, care, council, police, energy, school, college and university staff have worked throughout the pandemic, and it’s their skill and dedication that will see us out the other side.

“Their union will continue to speak up for them and do all it can to protect them in the difficult months ahead. Despite the risks, the immense pressures and their sheer exhaustion, the dedication and commitment of our key workers knows no end. I will not let this government, nor any future one, forget that.

“Supporting public service workers through the pandemic, securing an early pay rise for NHS staff and ensuring the government backs down on its plans for an ill-judged pay freeze will be my immediate priorities. Pushing for the funding and the political will to create a quality, affordable national care service, where staff are respected and paid fairly, comes close behind.”

Keir Starmer welcomed her election
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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As General Secretary of the UK's largest union – and one of Labour's largest backers, Ms McAnea will play a prominent role inside the Labour Party.

Her election was welcomed by Keir Starmer.

He tweeted: "Congratulations @cmcane on being elected as @unisontheunion's General Secretary.

"I know you will be a brilliant representative for Unison members. And it's a significant moment for the union to elect its first woman General Secretary.

"I look forward to working with you."

Outgoing general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is a historic day for our union, and I am delighted that Christina – a close friend and colleague for over 30 years – has today been elected as general secretary of our great union. As an experienced and respected negotiator and passionate campaigner, I can think of no better person to pass the baton to and take our union forward.

“I am so proud that our union of over a million women now has its very first woman leader. Christina will be a fantastic general secretary, as she presides over a growing union. I know she will continue to stand up for public service workers everywhere, holding employers and the government to account in pursuit of the strong, well-funded services the UK’s communities both need and deserve.”

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