THE union chief from Little Sutton who played a major role in saving the Rover car company from oblivion in 2000 is back in the national limelight.
Although the Transport and General Workers' Union has had a team of negotiators involved in the Gate Gourmet sackings row which recently crippled British Airways, it is the organisation's general secretary who has been capturing the headlines.
And, just as he did when BMW was divesting itself of the ailing Rover brand five years ago, Mr Woodley is pulling no punches when it comes to his rhetoric.
In 2000 he claimed the German motor giant was simply treating Rover workers as 'cannon fodder'.
Last week, after talks to try to get catering company Gate Gourmet to reinstate more than 600 staff, he blasted: 'This is an issue for the country and the Government. It is only our existing labour laws that allow bandit employers to behave like this.'
Mr Woodley has never shied away from controversy.
Writing for the first time as general secretary in the union's magazine in 2004, he took a hefty swipe at the Government.
He asked why this was 'the first Labour Government in history under which the gap between rich and poor has grown, to leave on the statute book anti-union laws and to extend privatisation'.
He also questioned why it was 'also the first to abandon the principles of peace and international law and line up with a reckless, aggressive and reactionary US administration'.
However, this no-nonsense approach has gained him respect throughout the trade union and Labour movements.
It has also won him one of the top jobs in UK trade unionism, which he took in 2003 after winning the hard-fought election to replace Bill Morris.
Mr Woodley has been deeply involved in labour relations since 1967 when, at the age of 19, he started work at Vauxhall Motors's Ellesmere Port plant, where his father George was the full-time works convenor.
The young Woodley joined the National Union of Vehicle Builders, which eventually became part of the T&G.
Elected on to the branch committee, he became a shop steward, then deputy convenor.
By the early 1980s Mr Woodley was convenor for the plant, and a member of his union's powerful Vehicle Building and Automotive Group national committee.
T&G chairman Stan Pemberton later persuaded him to make a successful application for a job as a full-time union officer based at the Birkenhead office.
Rising quickly, he became national officer for the Vehicle Building and Automotive Group, and was then promoted to national secretary.
His colleagues among the union's leading negotiators showed confidence in him by electing him as shop steward for T&G national officers.
In 2002 he was elected deputy general secretary of the T&G. The following year he took the top job.
Despite the breakdown of the Gate Gourmet talks last week, Mr Woodley refused to walk away, and said: 'Talks have indeed broken down as a consequence of Gate Gourmet wanting to selectively re-employ those who had been sacked even though there is enough work for everyone.
'The T&G remains in talks with British Airways. It is our belief that BA cannot do a Pontius Pilate on this issue.
'It is 'cost down' that has led to the sacking of our members. BA must now play a part in the resolution of this situation.' TOUGH TALKER: T&G general secretary Tony Woodley.