The Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde
|Born||29 April 1943|
Salford, England, UK
|Died||13 March 2018 (aged 74)|
Nottingham, England, UK
|Spouse(s)||Keith McDowall CBE|
Brenda Dean, Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, PC, FRSA (29 April 1943 – 13 March 2018) was a British trade unionist and Labour Party politician. As general secretary of SOGAT from 1985 until 1991, she was "the first woman elected to head a major industrial trade union."
Trade union career
She began her career as a trade unionist as a teenager, initially as a member of the National Union of Printing, Bookbinding and Paper Workers. In 1972 she became assistant secretary of the Manchester branch of the print union SOGAT (Society of Graphical and Allied Trades), and became involved in negotiations over the introduction of new technology to the printing industry. Rising through the union hierarchy, she became President of SOGAT in 1983, and was elected as its General Secretary in 1985, becoming "the first woman elected to lead a major industrial union".
She recognised the threats to her members' jobs of impending changes in the print industry, and, it later became clear, held private meetings with Rupert Murdoch in secret to discuss his plans. During the Wapping dispute of 1986/87, she "became one of the best-known trade union leaders in Britain." However, in her attempts to resolve the strike, "she was bitterly denounced by some people in the militant Fleet Street chapels (union branches) as a “Judas”, she was derided as “a film star” because of her blond good looks and her leadership was decried when she put the survival of the union, with 90% of its members in the provinces, ahead of what was essentially a London dispute."
In 1991, SOGAT became part of the Graphical, Paper and Media Union. Dean stood for the general secretaryship, but was narrowly defeated by Tony Dubbins, by 78,654 votes to 72,657. Instead, she became the union's deputy general secretary, serving for a single year before resigning.
Member of the House of Lords
She was a member of the Labour opposition front bench in the House of Lords from 1994 until 1997, and a member of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education that published an influential report in 1997. She chaired the armed forces pay review body (1999-2004), the Covent Garden market authority (2005–13) and the Housing Corporation, now Homes England, (1997-2003); and was a member of the Royal Commission on House of Lords Reform in 1999.
She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1992.
Her autobiography, Hot Mettle, deals largely with her tenure as SOGAT General Secretary at the time of Rupert Murdoch's battles with her own and other trades unions, notably the Wapping dispute. She was a Vice-President of the Debating Group.
Brenda Dean died on 13 March 2018, aged 74.
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- "Anti-Corbyn Group Amasses £250,000 Fighting Fund". Sky News. 16 August 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- Rajeev Syal (21 September 2016). "New anti-Corbyn group is funded by former Tony Blair spin doctor". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
|Trade union offices|
Bill Keys and Owen O'Brien
| General Secretary of SOGAT
| Deputy General Secretary of the Graphical, Paper and Media Union
1991 – 1992