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Changing workplaces for the better

DEDICATED: William Morris

BILL MORRIS was born in Bombay, Jamaica in 1938. His plans to attend a prestigious agricultural college had to be rethought in 1954, when he joined his recently widowed mother in Britain, living in the Handsworth district of Birmingham.

He started work at the Birmingham engineering company, Hardy Spicers, attending day-release courses in engi- neering skills at Handsworth Technical College. 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 sec- retary 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 re- tirement on his 65th birthday, October 19, 2003, when he was succeeded as general secretary by Tony Woodley.

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 is an independent non-executive Director of the England and Wales Cricket Board. He was awarded the Order of Jamaica in 2002 and received a knighthood in the 2003 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

On April 11, 2006, it was announced that Morris would take a seat in the House of Lords as a working life peer, and he was gazetted as Baron Morris of Handsworth in the County of West Midlands in June 2006.

He currently serves on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights.

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