First name/s: Norman
Last name: Willis
Known names / nicknames:
Date of birth: 21/01/1933
Year of birth: 1933
Life before Ruskin
Date and place of birth: Hayes, Middlesex 21 January 1933
Family: His father Jim , a barber and council worker and his mother Kate who worked in laundries and canteens were both socialists and shop stewards. He called his mother a working class suffragette and his mentor. He had 4 brothers and sisters
Work: After Ashford County grammar school he joined the TGWU at 16 as an office boy. After national service he returned to work at the TGWU in the education department.
Politics/Trade union activity:
Trade Union membership (at time of entry to Ruskin) TGWU
Life at Ruskin
Dates at Ruskin: c. 1955 – 1957
Source of funding: Union sponsorship
Subjects studied at Ruskin: Philosophy and Political Science
Life after Ruskin
Education: He graduated in PPE from Oriel College, Oxford with a ‘good second’ in 1959
Work: He returned to the TGWU. By 1970 he was head of research and education. In 1974 he moved to the TUC as assistant to Len Murray the general secretary. He was appointed deputy in 1977 and in 1984 – 1993 was general secretary.
Politics/trade union activity: President of the European ‘TUC’ in 1991;member of Staines Urban District Council labour group.
Family: Wife Maureen Kenning he married in 1963. Tow children Liz and Andrew
Place & date of death: 7 June 2014
Date of death: 07/06/2014
Year of death: 2014
Achievements / Publications
General secretary of the TUC;vice president of the Poetry Society (he had written poetry from an early age);President of the Arthur Ransome Society; trustee of the Royal School of Needlework.
Material in archives or already published articles
Notes on Image/s
Comment of contributor/s and sources
Norman Willis’s role as general secretary of the TUC, particularly during the miners’ strike of 1984 -5 was not without controversy.
The current TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said on his death: “Norman Willis led the TUC with distinction during some of the most difficult years in the trade union movement’s history – a period that included the challenges of the miners’ strike and Mrs Thatcher’s onslaught on trade unionism. But he will also be remembered as a warm, kind and immensely amusing colleague by all who worked alongside him.”
Sources: TUC website