CWU’s Mel Gorrie receives STUC Helen Dowie Learning Award 2022

Union Matters

Pictured above: Mel Gorrie and John McAlinden

Scotland No.1’s Mel Gorrie said that “it was lovely, but humbling” to receive this year’s prestigious Helen Dowie Award at the STUC in Aberdeen, in recognition of her learning work on behalf of CWU members…

Mel, an IR rep for members of our union’s Scotland No1 Branch, has also been a union learning rep (ULR) for several years and, when we caught up with her during Conference Week, she told us about some of the courses that she and others have been providing.

“We’ve been running about 12 courses per year, ranging from technical training in CISCO and SQL to broader subjects such as neurodiversity awareness, languages and signing,” she said, adding that the training has been provided by tutors from various local colleges.

“We’ve been able to use BT premises – mainly at Alexander Bain House in Glasgow – and that “most of the courses are weekly and the sessions take place in the evenings.”

When the pandemic struck, in March 2020, the learning programme had to be switched online, but courses continued – albeit in a completely different context.

Commenting on Mel’s work, STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “From ensuring the continuation of education programmes despite the pandemic to empowering the next generation of union activists, Mel has been at the forefront of ensuring lifelong learning for Scotland’s trade unionists.

“Right across Scotland, in every sector of the economy, our reps and shop stewards are the face of our trade union movement in our workplaces and in our communities. Our annual Union Rep Awards celebrate these stalwarts and all those who have gone above and beyond this past year. “This year was no exception and Mel thoroughly deserves her recognition as the recipient of the Helen Dowie Award for 2022.”

Mel said that she wanted to also give credit to fellow ULR John McAlinden, of the CWU’s Edinburgh, Dundee & Borders Branch, saying that he had also gone above and beyond in his work to ensure that members receive access to learning.

“It was lovely, as well as humbling, to receive this award, but I want to give praise to John as well and all credit must go to my CWU and Scottish Union Learning colleagues who have played a leading role in educating many trade union members in Scotland.

“It’s abundantly clear that, in the face of a global pandemic, our members responded in their droves, seeking to develop and upskill themselves through our union learning programmes.

“Education is lifelong and we will continue to provide CWU members across Scotland with the skills and knowledge to develop their careers, gaining industry-recognised qualifications and empowering them both in and out of the workplace.”