Ashington mayor John McCormack has been elected national president of the University and College Union (UCU).
Mr McCormack, a former lecturer in trade union studies at Northumberland College, will serve as vice-president for two years before taking the top job in 2014.
The UCU is the largest post-16 education union in the world, representing lecturers and academic staff in universities and colleges throughout the UK.
Mr McCormack, pictured, has been active in the trade union movement all his working life and was the UCU’s branch chairman at the Ashington college for many years, leading campaigns against compulsory redundancies and calling for improvements to lecturers’ terms and conditions.
He will take over from former college colleague Kathy Taylor, making this the first time that the job has been filled by two members from the same college in a row.
Mr McCormack was chairman of UCU’s northern region committee for many years and has been a member of its national executive committee for the past four years.
He also serves on the Trades Union Congress’s northern regional executive committee.
Mr McCormack said: “I am delighted to have been elected president of UCU.
“I hope to use my presidency to continue to defend our members in universities and colleges against the vicious onslaught by this coalition government on their pay, their pensions and their professionalism.
“I want to defend staff against the endless attacks on their conditions of service and threats to their jobs.”