Keir Starmer leads tribute to UK's biggest union boss Dave Prentis as he announces retirement from Unison

Sophia Sleigh
·2-min read
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, warned of the potentially devastating impact of Brexit: PA Wire/PA Images
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, warned of the potentially devastating impact of Brexit: PA Wire/PA Images

Leading Labour MPs today paid tribute to the leader of the UK’s biggest trade union as he announced his retirement.

Dave Prentis, who has been general secretary of Unison since 2001, is set to retire on December 31, when his term of office ends.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer led the farewell messages to the union boss for his “outstanding” leadership.

He added: "I want to thank you for your many years of outstanding leadership and for admirably representing our heroic frontline workers during the coronavirus crisis. I know you will always contribute to our movement and that we will continue to campaign together."

Gordon Brown with Dave Prentis
Gordon Brown with Dave Prentis

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “I wish Dave Prentis a long and happy retirement, Dave has led our union for many years and has been an outstanding general secretary.

“Always encouraging activists like me in the early days in the union, always so supportive, thanks for everything Dave.”

Ilford North MP West Streeting added: “Dave will leave a huge legacy for our union - now the largest in the UK and the fastest-growing in Europe.

“A union that stands up for its members, for public services and for a fairer, more equal society. Thank you, Dave, from this proud Unison member.”

Mr Prentis said: "I've been so proud to serve as Unison general secretary for 20 years. It's been the honour and privilege of my life to be able to represent our incredible public service workers from across our four nations, and never more so than in the last few difficult months.

"I have always been driven by a belief in fairness and justice for all our members, especially in the past five months when they and our public services have risen to the many challenges posed by the pandemic.

"As the health crisis turns to an economic crisis, I will be here to continue to lead Unison until the end of this year.

“There's much still to do - holding the Government to account for its handling of the pandemic, ensuring proper funding for our public services and a decent pay rise for all their hardworking employees."

A timetable for electing his successor will be agreed by the union's national executive by the end of the month.

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