New Leadership at the ETUC

Brenda O'Brien

Yesterday evening, the Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in Athens voted and elected Bernadette Ségol as its new General Secretary. She will be the head of the European confederation for the next four years, alongside a new team.

On the third day of the ETUC Congress, the delegates of trade unions from 36 countries elected the new team that is going to lead the confederation till 2015. Bernadette Ségol has been elected as the General Secretary, Józef Niemec and Patrick Itschert have been elected as deputy General Secretaries. Claudia Menne, Luca Visentini, Veronica Anna-Maria Nilsson and Judith Kirton-Darling have been elected as Confederal Secretaries and Ignacio Fernández Toxo has been elected as the new President of the ETUC.

If you'd like to know more about the new team, read on.

It's the first time in the ETUC's history that a General Secretary has come from a European Industry Federation, rather than a national trade union centre, and her team also includes people with a "European" rather than solely a national pedigree.

Bernadette Ségol was born in 1949 in Luzech (France). Bernadette Ségol was first elected as Head of UNI Europa in 2000 and was re-elected in 2003 and 2007. Prior to that, she was Director of Euro-FIET (commerce, finance, information technologies and other services) in Brussels from 1985 to 2000 and Assistant to the General Secretary of the International Textile Workers’ Federation from 1974 to 1985. She is a member of ETUC’s Executive Committee since 1985. Bernadette obtained her Masters in Philosophy from Toulouse University in 1972. Bernadette has four children.

Patrick Itschert was born in 1953 in Overijse, Belgium. Patrick Itschert is General Secretary of the International Textile Garment & Leather Workers’ Federation. Prior to that, Patrick was General Secretary of the European Trade Union Federation for Textiles, Clothing, Leather and Footwear (ETUF:TCL) and Director of the Belgian Textile and Clothing Institute (ITCB). He graduated in economics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Patrick has four children.

Józef Niemiec was born on 11 March 1955 in Poland. Married with two children, Józef Niemiec is a Confederal Secretary of the ETUC since 2003. He was Vice-president of the National Commission of NSZZ “Solidarność” from 1999 to 2002 and Secretary of the National Commission from 1998 to 2003. He filled various roles within “Solidarność” since 1980. He has a Master’s degree in languages (roman philology) from University Jagellonne (1978) and graduated from the Teacher Training College (Masters in 1997).

Judith Kirton-Darling was born in Tanzania in 1977. A British citizen, Judith Kirton-Darling is Advisor to the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF) since 2008. She also worked at Unite the Union, UNI Europa and at the European Trade Union Institute. She completed her Social and Political Studies at the University of Sheffield and obtained her “MSc European Social” diploma from the University of Bath.

Claudia Menne was born in 1962 in Germany. Since 2006, Claudia Menne is in charge of DGB’s department for equal opportunities and for the policy for women and the family. She is President of ETUC’s Women’s Committee since December 2009. From 2006 to 2010, she was Vice-president of the German women's lobby. She also was eight years in charge of the European and International department for the German railway and transport workers’ union. She obtained her Master’s degree in economic and social history from the University of Bochum in 1990.

Veronica Anna-Maria Nilsson was born in 1971 in Halmstad, Sweden. Veronica Nilsson is Special Advisor to the ETUC since March 2010. Prior to that, she worked at the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), at the Brussels office of the Swedish trade unions and at the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) in Paris. She comes from the Swedish trade union movement (TCO). She obtained her Master of Science with specialization in political economy from Stockholm University in 1994.

Luca Visentini was born in 1969 in Udine, Italy. Luca Visentini is UIL’s General Secretary for the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and Secretary General of the Confederal Chamber of Labour of the UIL in Trieste since 1996. Since 2010, he represents the UIL in ETUC’s Executive Committee. He is Vice-president of the IRTUCs’ European coordination since 2007. From 1989 to 1996, he was Regional General Secretary of the UILTUCS. He studied philosophy at the University of Trieste.

Ignacio Fernández Toxo, the new ETUC President, is General Secretary of the Spanish trade union “Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras” (CC.OO.).

The Congress concludes its work this afternoon.

Brenda O'Brien in Athens