Edmonds grew up in South London, and was educated at Christ's Hospital School and Oriel College, Oxford. On graduation, he found work as a research assistant with the National Union of General and Municipal Workers, moving on to become a field officer, then a National Industrial Officer.
In 1986, Edmonds became General Secretary of the union, by then known as the GMB. In this role, he became known as a critic of Tony Blair's leadership of the Labour Party. He stood down as leader in 2003, one year ahead of schedule.
- Stuart Thomson, "John (Walter) Edmonds"
- Ben Russell, "Edmonds to step down as GMB leader a year early", The Independent, 29 October 2002
|General Secretary of the GMB
|President of the Trades Union Congress