Deputy General Secretary - Organising & Membership Development: Ethel Buckley 


“In an era when workers’ rights remain under sustained attack it is crucial that we work together to build a union that can lead an effective fight back in every workplace and community throughout the country.”

Active from a young age in various women’s rights, anti-racist and political campaigns in her native Cork, she continued her social activism during several years of working and studying in San Francisco in the United States.

She first became involved in SIPTU when working towards a PhD in Political Geography at University College Cork (UCC). Initially serving as a Shop Steward in UCC, she later became a Branch Trustee of the Administrative, Professional and Technical Branch based in Connolly Hall, Cork.

Deciding that her future lay in organising, she left a career in education to take up a role as a full-time union official based in Liberty Hall. After cutting her teeth in some of the most intense industrial battles of the early-to-mid 2000s, including the 2001 National Toll Bridges strike, the Independent Newspapers dispute in 2004 and the Irish Ferries dispute of 2005, she was promoted to Branch Secretary. She served as Branch Secretary of the Administrative, Supervisory and Sales Staffs Branch which was Dublin-based and the Insurance and Finance Branch and the Professional and Managerial Branch which were both national in reach.

Shortly after its establishment she sought a transfer to the Strategic Organising Department where she served as a Researcher before being promoted to Sector Organiser. As a Sector Organiser she led the Fair Hotels and Fair Deal for Cleaners organising initiatives and was centrally involved in mobilising activists in the ‘Don’t Bin Our ERO’ campaign to restore the Joint Labour Committees.

She joined the union’s Strategic Management Team in 2011 when she was promoted to National Campaigns and Equality Organiser. In this role, Ethel led campaigns to mobilise young, migrant and LGBT workers. As Services Division Organiser since 2015 she has been central to the Justice for Clerys Workers campaign, organising the National Women’s Football Squad and securing legislation to restore collective bargaining rights to certain categories of freelance workers. She has also worked on ending involuntary low working hours and zero hours contracts.

She is a serving member of the Executive Council of the ICTU having first been elected in 2013. She had the honour of being appointed the inaugural Trade Union Organiser in Residence at Ruskin College, Oxford, England. She lives in Dublin with her husband and their three children.

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