Bill Morris, Baron Morris of Handsworth

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For other people named William Morris, see William Morris (disambiguation).
The Lord Morris of Handsworth
Born 19 October 1938 (1938-10-19)
Manchester Parish, Jamaica
Nationality British
Other names Bill
Occupation legislator, appointee to various quangos
Known for former General Secretary, Transport and General Workers' Union (first black leader of a British trade union)

Sir William Manuel Morris, Baron Morris of Handsworth, OJ, DL (born 19 October 1938), generally known as Bill Morris, is a former British trade union leader. He was General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union from 1992 to 2003, and the first black leader of a British trade union.

Early life and career[edit]

Bill Morris was born in Manchester Parish, Jamaica. After the death of his father, William, a part-time policeman, his mother, Una, emigrated to England to find work settling in Handsworth, Birmingham. Morris joined her in the UK in 1954, finding work at a local car parts manufacturer, Hardy Spicer Engineering Ltd. Morris married Minetta in 1957. She died in 1990. They have two sons.

Morris joined the Transport and General Workers' Union in 1958, and became a shop steward in 1962. After serving on the TGWU General Executive Council (GEC) from 1972 to 1973, Bill Morris joined the union as a full-time official. He served as district officer of the Nottingham District from 1973 to 1976 and district secretary of the Northampton District from 1976 to 1979. In 1979, he became national secretary of the Passenger Services Trade Group, which was responsible for staff working for bus and coach companies. He was elected deputy general secretary in 1986, working under general secretary Ron Todd.

Morris was elected general secretary when Ron Todd retired in 1992. He was re-elected in 1995, ahead of Jack Dromey. He remained in the post until his retirement on his 65th birthday, 19 October 2003, when he was succeeded as general secretary by Tony Woodley; Jack Dromey was again a candidate. During his time as general secretary, Morris was generally regarded as a moderate and did not have a good relationship with the more radical elements of his union. He was also known as a supporter of Prime Minister Tony Blair, although the relationship cooled towards the end of Morris's tenure.

Morris was a member of the TUC General Council and Executive Committee from 1988 to 2003. He was appointed a non-executive director of the Bank of England in 1998. He was also a member of the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords from 1999 to 2000. He is a member of the Board of Governors of London South Bank University, a Trustee of the Open University Foundation, and the member of the Courts of the University of Northampton and the University of Bedfordshire. He was appointed as the first Chancellor of the University of Technology, Jamaica in 1999 and as Chancellor of Staffordshire University in 2004. He has been a member of the advisory councils of the BBC and IBA and a Commissioner of the Commission for Racial Equality. He chaired the Morris Inquiry into professional standards in the Metropolitan Police in 2004. He sits as a member of the Employment Appeal Tribunal. He is also a patron of the Refugee Council.

Morris was awarded the Order of Jamaica in 2002 and received a knighthood in the 2003 Queen's Birthday Honours. On 11 April 2006, it was announced that Morris would take a seat in the House of Lords as a working life peer,[1] and he was gazetted as Baron Morris of Handsworth, of Handsworth in the County of West Midlands in June 2006. He serves on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Morris is an independent non-executive Director of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Trade union offices
Preceded by
Alec Kitson
Deputy General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union
1986–1992
Succeeded by
Jack Adams
Preceded by
Ron Todd
General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union
1992–2003
Succeeded by
Tony Woodley
Preceded by
Rita Donaghy
President of the Trades Union Congress
2001
Succeeded by
Tony Young