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‘Voice of school support staff’ Barbara Plant (above), elected as union’s National President.

Barbara was brought up on a South London council estate and was the first person in her family to go to university. A former teacher, Barbara took time out to have and look after her children, before returning to her children’s primary school as a teaching assistant – which is where she joined GMB, 20 years ago. 

When the school’s headteacher tried to change the teaching assistants’ job description, Barbara organised her colleagues, took on the bosses and won. 

In 2002, Barbara became a workplace rep and quickly moved through the activist ranks to become education convenor for Lewisham schools, going on to sit on the national School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSSNB) representing support staff at a national level. 

In 2009, Barbara devoted her working life to being the voice of school support staff as full-time union representative. 

After serving in a number of lay member positions in GMB’s Southern Region and nationally, Barbara was elected to GMB’s Central Executive Council in 2015.

The ballot today was the result of the sad passing of GMB’s National President Mary Turner in 2017, with all GMB congress delegates taking part in a vote at GMB’s 101st annual Congress in Brighton.

Barbara Plant, GMB National President said:

“I am so proud to lead the union that I love, and that has been a family to me over the last 20 years – through thick and thin.

“I want to give back to our members, to repay the kindness, support, opportunities and encouragement that I have been shown over the years.

“Our reps are the superheroes. They’re the ones who face management every day, support our members in so many ways and I know that they will go back from congress reinvigorated having shared their experiences and reaffirmed GMB’s values of social justice, equality, socialism, internationalism and solidarity.

“These values have been handed down through generations, from Eleanor Marx to Mary Turner and they are the values that I will always put at the heart of everything I do as National President.”



Posted: 11th June 2018

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