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My Experience as a Trade Unionist

Like many working-class kids who left school at 15 or 16, I went into work at the local factory.  I joined what was then the Amalgamated Engineering and Foundry Workers’ Union (AEF).  At the age of 18, I was elected shop-steward and was a delegate to the District Committee.  However, even at a young age, my trade union activity got me into trouble – and I got the sack.

Moving from Wales to Derbyshire in my early 20s, I joined the Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU).  For a number of years, I was a shop steward, Branch Committee member, delegate to the Region and Chair of the local Trades Council.  Again, my trade union activity seemed to get me the sack.

For a couple of years prior to entering higher education, I was a member of the National Union of Dyers, Bleachers and Textile Workers (NUDBTW).  I was a shop steward and Branch Committee member.  I guess that, by now, you will have worked out the pattern.  Yes! I was sacked.

At Manchester Poly (as it was), I was a member of the NUS, but was not active.  However, when I went to Huddersfield to do my PGCE, I joined NATFHE and have been an activist in NATFHE/UCU ever since.

At Burnley College, I was Branch Chair for a couple of years, then Secretary for more years than I care to remember – from prior to incorporation to September last year, when I moved back to Wales.

For most of that time, I was also the Branch rep to North West Region.  During my time on  the NW Region, I was Chair for three years, then Secretary for what seemed like a lifetime but was, in reality, a few years.

Also, I was one of the 2 elected NW reps on the National Executive Committee (NEC).  Whilst on the NEC, I was Vice-Chair of the Finance, Membership and Organisation Committee (FMO) – which has morphed into TAC, (Transitional Arrangements Committee).

I also represented the NW Region  as the Black member on the Equality Advisory Council (EAC) (I now represent Wales),  and the NW TUC Black Members’ network. 

This year, I represented NATFHE at both the North West and Wales TUC.

Including 2006, I have been a TUC delegate for 3 years.

Currently, I am the Part-time Rep and Branch Committee Member at Deeside College in Connah’s Quay in Wales.  At the last, (and I mean last) Wales NATFHE conference and AGM, I was elected as the Wales Black Member on EAC.

All in all, I have been an active trade unionist since the age of 17, and I continue to be so.

If you elect me as General Secretary, you will be electing a person who has been a lay activist, at all levels, throughout their working life. Not a bureaucrat, but someone who actually knows what it’s like to be sacked for their commitment to the trade union movement, someone who knows what it’s like to be a union member at grass-roots level, someone who knows what it’s like to fight discrimination first-hand.  And, yes, someome who knows what it’s like to work in education.

June 11, 2006 Posted by | Trade Union history | Comments Off on My Experience as a Trade Unionist