Owen Reidy has been appointed as the new general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), replacing Patricia King, who stepped down from the post this month. Owen’s appointment followed a competitive interview process for the general secretary post.
A native of Donegal, with 24 years of full-time experience in the Irish trade union movement, Owen started his career as a union official in SIPTU in the west of Ireland, and occupied a range of roles in the union representing and organising workers in the aviation, insurance, and finance, non-commercial semi-states, and cleaning and security sectors.
Appointed one of SIPTU’s five divisional organisers in 2013, Owen managed the union’s Transport, Energy, Aviation and Construction division, a period during which he was involved in several high profile and successful industrial disputes. These include the Greyhound lockout, Luas dispute, and pay disputes in the CIE transport companies.
In 2016 Owen became assistant general secretary of ICTU, with primary responsibility for the Congress in Northern Ireland. He has established himself as the recognised voice of the trade union movement in Northern Ireland on issues such as Brexit, political stalemate at Stormont, and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
Welcoming Owen to address Fórsa’s national executive in Donegal this week, ICTU president and Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan said Owen had a phenomenal track record as an industrial official and as a spokesperson on trade union issues: “I’m delighted that Fórsa’s national executive was able to welcome Owen in his native Donegal.
“His appointment marks a proud moment for Owen and his family, and on behalf of Fórsa’s membership I am delighted to welcome him into his new role. With Irish and European collective bargaining structures set to be overhauled, our movement is entering a dynamic new phase, with significant new challenges on several fronts, both in terms of the economic outlook and the challenges laid down by the high-level group on collective bargaining.
“As ICTU president I’m delighted to work with Owen as we enter this new phase. He will bring fresh energy to the task of ensuring we meet the challenges in a way that produces real improvements in the pay and conditions of workers, and he has shown that he has the qualities to unite the movement in pursuit of its core objectives.
“Equally, I want to add my deep appreciation for the amazing work and legacy of Patricia King, who has done enormous work to help shape a better future for Irish workers,” he said
Addressing the Fórsa national executive Owen said the immediate priority for Congress is to transpose the recent Adequate Minimum Wages directive, and to legislate for the LEEF High-Level Group report on collective bargaining in Ireland: “I am delighted and humbled to be selected for this important leadership role in our trade union movement. I think we have the potential to rebuild and grow our movement and reach out to workers currently not organised in trade unions. We need to make work pay for all and build a more inclusive economy and society,” he said.
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