Paddy Lillis became Usdaw’s General Secretary in July 2018 following overwhelming support from the Union’s branches across the UK for his nomination. He was re-elected to serve a further five year term in November 2022.
In his time as General Secretary, Paddy has overseen the launch of a number of high profile Usdaw campaigns including the Retail Recovery Plan and the New Deal for Workers. He has liaised with retailers and employers groups such as the British Retail Consortium to highlight the issues facing the retail sector and led campaigns calling for clear Government action. Paddy is a member of the Retail Sector Council and the Labour Party High Street Commission.
Paddy has also driven forward the Union’s Freedom From Fear campaign, which has delivered new legal protections for shopworkers in Scotland. In 2019, Paddy launched a Parliamentary petition calling on the Westminster Government to introduce a specific offence of assaulting, threatening or abusing a retail worker. This petition received over 104,000 signatures. Following the petition, a Home Office Select Committee inquiry, and a debate in Parliament, the Government agreed to support an amendment to the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which brings into statute tougher sentences for attacks on retail workers.
Paddy serves on the TUC Executive Committee and TUC General Council, and is a member of the TUC Anti-Racism Taskforce. He is currently developing a programme of work within Usdaw to improve representation of Black members at all levels in the Union.
Paddy is a member of the Usdaw delegation to the Trade Union Congress and Labour Party Conference, where he has raised key issues affecting Usdaw members, such as insecure work, fire and rehire and parents and carers’ rights. Paddy has previously served as a Labour Party Councillor for ten years.
Paddy represented Usdaw on Labour’s National Executive Committee for 14 years and was the NEC Chair in 2016.
Paddy has been an Usdaw member for over 40 years. He joined Usdaw when he was employed as a heavy goods driver at Abbey Meat Packers in Newtonabbey, County Antrim in Northern Ireland. He was appointed to the role of Usdaw Area Organiser in 1989 in the Bristol office, before becoming the Divisional Officer for South Wales and Western Division in 1997.
Paddy then served as Deputy General Secretary of Usdaw for 14 years. He coordinated the Union’s recruitment campaigns, and the work of the very successful Organising Academy. In the 14 years in the role, the Union’s recruitment and organising strategy helped Usdaw to grow by more than 100,000 members.