About Joe O'Connor
Joe O’Connor is a driven and dynamic activist and campaigner, with extensive leadership experience, a passion for social justice and progressive change, and a flair for modern communications.
He currently works as the Director of Campaigning with Fórsa Trade Union, Ireland’s largest public service union. He is responsible for coordinating Fórsa’s national campaigns, developing and leading a campaigning culture and capacity, and building a greater profile for the union’s concerns and policies.
Joe is also the chairperson of the Four Day Week Ireland campaign, having coordinated the formation of the coalition in 2019, and the successful launch of a pilot programme and government-funded research project in 2021.
He has led the design, development and rollout of several ground-breaking and successful campaigns in recent years, including ‘Jobbridge – Time to Start Again’, ‘More Power to You’, ‘Hidden Heroes’, ‘Secure Rents’, and the PRII-nominated (Awards for Excellence in Public Relations) ‘Support our Secretaries’ campaign.
He has overseen and managed the establishment and development of a national activist network in Fórsa, and founded the union’s annual Campaigning Summer School which has been running successfully as a standout event in the union calendar since 2017.
He also worked as part of Fórsa’s strategic organisational review team between 2019 and 2020, where he played a leading role in driving a significant organisational change management project, including the development of a five-year strategic plan for the union.
As national chairperson of the Social Democrats political party in 2018, Joe oversaw the rollout of the party’s campaign as part of the successful referendum to repeal the 8th amendment. He has extensive high-level experience of running political and electoral campaigns, including most recently leading the ‘Whitmore for Wicklow’ campaign team to victory in the 2020 general election, and as coordinator in the midlands and west region for the campaign to re-elect Michael D. Higgins in the 2018 Presidential election.
Prior to his work in the trade union movement, Joe spent several years in student leadership, culminating with his election as President of the Union of Students in Ireland in 2013. Here he led a team of full-time elected officers and staff in representing 354,000 students across the island of Ireland. He has also held several governance and policy roles in this area, as a board director with SpunOut.ie and the Higher Education Authority, and as a member of the Expert Group on the Future Funding of Higher Education having been appointed by the-then Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn T.D. in 2015.
Joe recently co-founded The Doorstep Market, a voluntary initiative set up to support small, independent Irish businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. This virtual multi-vendor marketplace acted an online ‘one-stop shop’, enabling Irish consumers to ‘stay home and shop local’, from a selection of over 300 small Irish businesses and more than 1,000 products.
He holds an MBS in Strategy and Innovation Management and a BBS (Honours) in Accounting from, as we the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, as well as an Advanced Diploma in Employment Law from The Honorable Society of King’s Inns.