Manuel Cortes has been TSSA (Transport Salaried Staff’s Association) General Secretary since 2011, having been re-elected in 2016. Cortes was born and raised in a working-class family in Gibraltar, leaving school without qualifications. He became an apprentice electrician, where he joined a union and gained technical qualifications.
He went on to study at Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh, gaining a BEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and a Masters in Optical Electronics, and also Business Economics from the University of Strathclyde. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Trade Union Program. He worked for a union in finance before joining the staff of Amnesty International.
In 1998 he joined TSSA. Cortes describes himself as a “proud and committed socialist” who backed Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Leadership in 2015. One of the most high-profile and outspoken trade union general secretaries of his generation he took a strong anti-Brexit stance, consistently warning of the dangers of leaving the European Union.