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Lifelong learning award for union stalwart

Nicola Sturgeon and Mel Gorrie

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and The Open University have recognised Mel Gorrie as a top Union Learning Rep as she received the 2022 Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning.

The award, presented by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the STUC annual congress in Aberdeen this week, celebrates the achievements of Scotland’s leading trade union members, promoting lifelong learning and skills development within the trade union movement. 

Glasgow woman Mel has played a key role in organising the delivery of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) learning programme.

Mel has forged new links with sister unions, learning providers and skills bodies to develop an engaging and diverse programme of learning opportunities and events for CWU members.

Taking a leading role in her workplace, she has also campaigned against period poverty, ensuring accessible and universal access to sanitary products to women across her sector. 

Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland, said:

"Learning, reskilling and upskilling is vital as the economy and industry recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"The OU in Scotland is proud to have worked alongside the STUC, Scottish Union Learning and trade unions to deliver a wide range of learning from management and leadership short courses through to digital skills, all of which support people to gain new opportunities in the workplace.

"We are delighted to support the Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning which this year recognises Mel’s work to support and encourage more union learners. Many congratulations to her, a worthy winner of this award."

Commenting, Ms Gorrie said: 
"It’s a great privilege to be recognised by the STUC and The Open University as the recipient of this year’s Helen Dowie Award. 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." 

Commenting, STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer said:
"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. 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. 

"Our reps are the lifeblood of our movement; an incredible force for good in helping others in need. Every single one of them deserves an award for the amazing work that they do and they have my utmost praise as they ingrain trade union values throughout their workplaces."

Wendy Burton, Director of Scottish Union Learning, added:
"Mel is a much-deserved recipient of this year’s Helen Dowie Award. Mel has played a crucial role in supporting union learners to upskill and to subsequently secure better paid posts within their workplaces."

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