GMB general secretary resigns after suffering ill health

The general secretary of the GMB, Tim Roache, has resigned after suffering from ill health, the union has announced.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the GMB said: “Tim has unfortunately been suffering with ill health for some time now and has made the difficult decision to stand down from his role, that he does not feel able to continue, in leading our union going forward.

“A meeting with the finance and general purposes committee will be convened to discuss the resignation and further updates will follow.”

Mr Roache’s resignation comes just months after he was re-elected as general secretary in November last year following a ballot of union members.

He secured a second term of office after receiving 61% of valid votes cast, defeating challenger Kathleen Walker Shaw, who received 39%.

Speaking at the time he pledged to “continue to fight” for the GMB’s more than 620,000 members as it aimed to become a “21st century union”.

Mr Roache, then a regional official of the GMB, was elected to succeed Paul Kenny as general secretary in 2015.

At the time Mr Roache had 35 years experience at the GMB and had overseen a big membership increase in his nine years as the head of the union’s Yorkshire and North Derbyshire region.

Under his leadership the GMB backed Lisa Nandy in the race to become Labour leader in January this year, with Mr Roache describing her as “a breath of fresh air”.

Following the election of Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Roache called for the party to start a “new chapter”, adding: “We need to leave behind the infighting and navel-gazing and get on with being a government in waiting.”

During the coronavirus crisis the GMB under Mr Roache had called on the Government to ensure furloughed workers were paid at least minimum wage rates.

He also joined forces with other union leaders and airport ground handling companies to warn that the business faces the threat of collapse unless measures are speeded up to help them deal with the crisis.

Earlier this month the GMB also argued that a special allowance should be paid to key workers employed in public services during the coronavirus pandemic.