UCU Scotland had an impressive ten delegates at the 91st Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) Annual Women’s Conference in Dundee on 29/30 October, chaired by Sharon Edwards, PCS. Ann Gow, Janice Aitken, Dr Lena Wånggren, Dr Anna Notaro, Fiona O’May, Prof. Kate Sang, Dr Irene Reid, Dr Ebtihal Mahadeen, Anne Swinney and Sylvia Morgan met and debated with over 200 trade union members, campaign exhibitors, visitors and guests taking time to consider the priorities for campaigns in the year ahead.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Women’s Votes; Women’s Voices and brought together delegates from a range of trade unions, trade union councils, workplaces and communities across Scotland to contribute to debates on many different issues such as Economy and Employment, Increasing Women’s Representation and Participation, Social Justice, Health and Combatting Violence Against Women. UCU Scotland moved and seconded motions on Automation in the workplace, the USS Pension Dispute, Gender Based Violence in Higher Education & End Violence against Women and Girls. We also brought an emergency motion on international staff at Edinburgh University. With such a strong delegation, we also spoke in debates on topics such as menopause matters at work and sexual harassment in the workplace. All our motions and amendments were passed by Conference, with strong support for tackling these issues.
Conference not only debated these crucial issues but we also had a variety of guest speakers, such as Mary Alexander from Fair Work Convention, Talat Yaqoob, Director, Equate Scotland, Louise Macdonald, CEO, Young Scot and Chair of the First Minister’s Advisory Council on Women and Girls (ACWC), and (of course!) Lynn Henderson, President, STUC.
We had a really great session “SHOW ME THE MONEY” this was facilitated by STUC Women’s Committee members, Annette Drylie and Davena Rankin. We worked in small groups focusing on the persistent gender pay gap in Scotland. As we discussed, the pay gap will only be smashed when those jobs that are regarded as “women’s work” are valued higher. This session looked at how “women’s work” is not only underpaid, but is totally undervalued and how women have paid the price of the bankers’ folly. This was a great chance to not only discuss the critical issues but to meet up with delegates from other trade unions. As was the Social in the evening – always a real delight to spend an evening in the company of such great women!
One highlight for myself included the Union into Schools project with contributions from school pupils on gender inequality. It was inspiring listening to the young people make powerful contributions and left us feeling more positive for future work.
This annual conference is a really positive experience and one that I’d encourage any UCU Scotland woman member to attend.