John Monks

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John Monks is General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation and former General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (1993-2003).

On the 26 July 2010 he became a Labour peer of the House of Lords.[1]


From 1967-69 Monks was a management trainee with electronics group, Plessey Ltd. From 1977-87 Head of the TUC’s Organization and Industrial Relations Department; 1979-1995 Member of the Council of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) of Great Britain; 1987-1993 Deputy General Secretary, TUC; 1988-1991 Member of the UK Economic and Social Research Council; 1993-2003 General Secretary of the TUC; 1998-2004 Vice Chairman, Learning and Skills Council, England and Chair, Adult Learning Committee; 1999-2000 Chairman, Co-operative Commission UK; 2003 General Secretary, ETUC, re-elected in 2007.[2]

Monks is also a Visiting Professor to the School of Management at the University of Manchester; Chairman of the People’s History Museum, Manchester; Councils of the European Policy Centre (with Peter Sutherland and Padoa-Schioppa who join Monks on the Centre for European Reform(CER)), Brussels and the Centre for European Studies, London.


Monks is also on the Council of the Henley Management College and the board of Renewal with David Miliband, who founded the CER and other ‘New Labour’ figures. He is on the Editorial Board of Europe’s World (with Pascal Lamy, Carl Bildt also of the CER).[3] This bills itself as "The only Europe-wide ideas community"[4]. Europe’s World was launched on 4 October 2005 by some 50 leading European Think Tanks (The Federal Trust in the UK which includes Lord Taverne QC and Peter Sutherland also with the CER, and the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program in the US, itself an offshoot of the Foreign Policy Research Institute whose trustees include Alexander M. Haig). Monks is also a trustee of Friends of Europe whose president is APCO’s Pat Cox, along with Pascal Lamy, Carl Bildt and Peter Mandelson. Monks is a Governor of The Ditchley Foundation and since 2008 he has been Vice-President of European Movement International. He also sits on the advisory council of the European Policy Centre [5]

What about the Workers?

A profile in the Economist stated that:

The boss of Europe’s unions may seem an unlikely standard-bearer for free-market capitalism. But Mr Monks thinks unions have an important role to play as capitalism is reshaped by the financial crisis. More of a thoughtful administrator than a bombastic leader, he never really liked the language of antagonism that pitted labour against capital and saw collective-bargaining agreements as merely a truce in the class war.[6]

Not entirely divested of schadenfreude, the report revealed something of a lacuna in Monks' weltanschauung:

Mr Monks confesses shamefacedly that until his daughter’s boyfriend joined a hedge fund in 2005 he had no idea how modern finance worked. As the young man explained hedge funds, private equity, mezzanine finance, leveraged deals and short-selling, Mr Monks’s eyes widened. Gradually it dawned on him why the solid old industry scene of ICI and General Motors was going, well, the way of ICI and GM. Up until this point he had assumed that he was just reshaping trade unions to face a world where industrial jobs and union membership were in decline.

These insinuations that he knows very little about capitalism have not deterred Monks for arguing that a rescue mission should be mounted to save "capitalism from the speculators" in Europe's World, the magazine he also advises. Here, he argues that:

Capitalism is under threat from greedy big-time speculators, warns John Monks, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). He says the trade unions must unite with business and governments in a new social partnership to counter the financial markets’ self-destructive orgy.[7]

The article obfuscates the workings of the financial whirlpool and does not rise beyond phrases such as: "Their philosophy barely progresses beyond Abba’s refrain: “Money, money, money. It’s a rich man’s world.”"



  1. Lord Monks Parliament.UK, accessed 22 December 2014
  2. A biography and time line of Monks career can be found at the European Trade Union Confederation website entry for John Monks
  5. European Policy Centre, Members accessed 8th November 2011
  6. The Economist (2009) Back to the future: John Monks says trades unions should press for a return to more old-fashioned capitalism, Feb 12th.
  7. John Monks (2008) Saving capitalism from the speculators, Europe's World.