Joe O’Flynn was elected to the position of General Secretary of SIPTU in 2002. On his appointment Joe committed himself to working with the Union's members, activists and staff to make SIPTU a dynamic organisation that will defend and promote the rights of workers throughout the island of Ireland.
He joined the Union as an apprentice mechanic at the age of 16 and soon after became a shop steward. Since he was first appointed a full-time official at the age of 22, he has gained considerable and widespread experience representing workers in both the public and private sector.
Joe has served the Union as an industrial official, Branch Secretary, National Industrial Secretary and Regional Secretary. As General Secretary, Joe has overseen the implementation of the most extensive restructuring of the Union since its foundation. This has entailed changing the Union from a General Branch Structure to an Organising Union based on Industrial Sectors and Divisions with specialised Units to support Shop Stewards, Activists and members. The restructuring coincided with the most challenging economic period in the history of Ireland, yet the Union has survived the storm, nothwithstanding membership losses and financial pressures, is successfully organising workers in their thousands for Fairness and Work and Justice in Society.
Joe was elected Treasurer of the Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in 2003 and has been re-elected at each Biennial Conference since. Joe is also a Board member of Bord Gais Eireann, a Commercial Semi-State Enterprise supplying both gas and electricity to homes and businesses throughout the island of Ireland, representing the employee share ownership scheme in which the workers have a percentage share in the Company.
He has been an active member of the Labour Party since he was a teenager and was proud to be elected Lord Mayor of his native city, Cork in 1998-99.