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ISSN 2045-0206

Scottish Union Learning News

Spring 2012

ULRs & Financial Capability “Skills for Everyday Life: A Better Way” Event held at STUC in Glasgow

Union Learning: A Better Way ULRs from across the country gather at Scottish Union Learning Conference

Volume 6 Number 3

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Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, welcomes funding from the Scottish Government at the 2012 Everyday Skills Event.

Continuation of Funding for Union Learning The STUC welcomed an announcement from the Scottish Government that granted funding of £1.422m to the STUC for union-led learning initiatives until March 2013. The STUC will take forward this work through Scottish Union Learning.

Printing: Hampden Advertising Cover: Louis Flood

This funding complements a two-year award of £895k from the European Social Fund until March 2013 for Lowlands and Uplands Scotland, and a three-year award of £415k until March 2014 for the Highlands and Islands. Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said, “Through Scottish Union Learning, the STUC puts learners at the centre by delivering learning in the workplace, with highly successful results. The Scottish Government’s continued support for union-led learning demonstrates the value trade unions add to workplaces in Scotland.

“Unions are taking a proactive approach to help at-risk workers, particularly lowpaid and non-traditional learners, to take action to protect themselves by increasing their skills. “The STUC welcomes this funding and we look forward with immense confidence to the continued success of union learning in Scotland”. Scottish Union Learning administers the Development and Learning Funds, which are supported by the Scottish Government and the European Social Fund. The ESF award for Lowlands and Uplands Scotland is for a period of two years, running from April 2011 to March 2013. This is provided under ESF Priority 5, “Strategic Skills Pipeline”. The ESF award for the Highlands and Islands is for a period of three years, running from April 2011 to March 2014.

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Trade Union Week at the Scottish Parliament Trade Union Week took place at the Scottish Parliament from 21st - 23rd February 2012. Trade Union Week offers an opportunity for MSPs and all Parliament staff to find out more about what is happening in workplaces around the country and for trade union workplace representatives to meet MSPs and learn more about the Parliament. Events during the week included the Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee seminar, Growth vs. the Golden Rules, and the Equal Opportunities Committee roundtable session, women and work, a Scottish Union Learning event and a Unions into Schools event. Trade Union Week highlights the participation and involvement of the trade union movement in the Scottish parliamentary process, and encourages a continuation of working with the Parliament, Scottish Government and trade unions to create a fairer, more equal Scotland. Scottish Union Learning hosted an event during Trade Union Week that was aimed at recognising learning journeys and the successes of learners in the workplace. Marco Biagi MSP sponsored the Scottish Union Learning “Meet the Learners: Learning at Work” event. Union learners from various workplaces, who were nominated for the Learner of the Year Award, were in attendance and received certificates from Scottish Union Learning in recognition of the learning they have

Learner of the Year, Susan Manson, with USDAW ULRs and Project Worker.

CWU Learners from Glasgow Royal Mail Centre in Springburn with Patricia Ferguson MSP (left).

Unite Apprentices from Rolls-Royce.

undertaken. Susan Manson, Learner of the Year, was also in attendance. Susan’s speech during the event has been reproduced in its entirety on pages 4 - 5 of this newsletter.

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From the Scottish Parliament: My Learning Journey By Susan Manson, Learner of the Year Susan Manson, a cleaner at the Morrisons store in Airdrie, was named as the 1st Learner of the Year by Scottish Union Learning in 2011. All of the nominees for the Learner of the Year Award were invited to the Scottish Parliament during Trade Union Week to receive certificates of achievement. Marco Biagi MSP sponsored the Scottish Union Learning event, which was themed, “Meet the Learners: Learning at Work”. Susan was invited to share her learning journey, which is reproduced unedited in the following article and is available online at 

“It was quite a shock to hear that I was going to be named as Learner of the Year. To get my award at the Scottish Union Learning Conference was an honour, and to be invited to the Parliament today an honour too. I can’t believe so many people are interested in what happened to me! But I’m happy for my story to be shared, if it helps encourage even one person into union learning. I always wanted to know more about computers – they are everywhere nowadays! But I would never have had the confidence to go to a College myself. So, when the Learning Reps in store, Ann and Betty, organised a Basic Computing course I signed up. I thought it would

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be easier to learn something new with people that I worked with, people like me. Because learning new things isn’t easy for me, has never been easy, because I have dyslexia. And I never thought I’d admit that to anyone – no one in work, and certainly not in the middle of the Scottish Parliament! But, I’m not ashamed of that anymore – because admitting I had dyslexia has brought me here today and has changed my life. So – what happened? Well, I started the computing course, and was enjoying it, but I couldn’t keep up. I soon felt out of my depth, and even though I was learning new things, it seemed to be taking me longer to “get” what everyone else was getting. So, I stopped going along to the classes and thought that would be the end of it. But, Ann and Betty wouldn’t let that happen. They asked me what was going on, and because I thought they could help I told them. They encouraged me, and pushed me in a good way, to speak to the tutor Peter. He was so helpful, and got me the program Natural Reader on my laptop. This software reads things out to me – so I could follow the tasks on my course and I finished it! I was so proud of myself, and knew what I had learned could carry on helping me. So, I bought myself a wee laptop - got Natural Reader software on it and now I use it every day. I want to give you an example that may seem like a minor thing to you, but it’s a big deal to me. Before talking about my dyslexia, and getting the help that I have, I couldn’t read my own mail. Think about all the post you get every week – and imagine having to rely on someone else to read it all out for you. For years, I had to rely on my husband or my son reading something for me, but now I just scan my

Learner Susan Manson with her in-store USDAW ULRs, Ann Seagriff and Betty Spence.

USDAW Project Worker, Jill Little Woodhouse, speaks on Susan’s behalf at the Scottish Parliament.

mail into the computer and can deal with it myself. It is so much nicer not having to rely on anyone else – what I’ve learned with the support of my union has really changed my life. I want to thank everyone involved for their help - Peter at Cumbernauld College, Ann and Betty, Usdaw for getting the course organised in store and to Shona. But this isn’t the end for me. I’m going to keep on learning, and we hope to get another union-led computing course running in the store. I’m so pleased to be able to tell you all my story today, and thank you for listening. I hope that other learners out there who hear my story are encouraged to take a chance like I did – it’s worth it!” 

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Representatives from 13 unions attended the Scottish Union Learning Everyday Skills Event in Glasgow.

Skills for Everyday Life: A Better Way Scottish trade unions gathered in Glasgow on 23rd February 2012 to explore issues surrounding Everyday Skills within the workplace. More than 70 delegates from around Scotland attended “Skills for Everyday Life: A Better Way,” the 4th Annual Scottish Union Learning Everyday Skills Event. The event was addressed by STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith, and Steve Stillwell from the Money Advice Service. David Kendall from The Reading Agency delivered a presentation on ‘The Six Book Challenge’ and Daniel Sellers from Education Scotland gave an update on Adult Literacies in Scotland 2020, the Scottish Government’s Strategic Guidance. 

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said, “As austerity measures take their toll on the incomes of families throughout the country, unsurprisingly, there is growing demand for courses aimed at improving financial skills, both at the workplace and home. Information and resources on financial capability at the Scottish Union Learning Everyday Skills Event will equip our Union Learning Representatives to support learners in the workplace to take control of financial issues in both their work and personal lives”. This national event was held at the STUC Centre in Glasgow, and delegates were invited to attend the following breakout sessions:

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Money Matters at Work Facilitated by Allison Barnes, The Money Advice Service and Lynn Cunningham, Education Scotland, this session focused on developing financial capability within the workplace. It looked at how to identify financial capability needs, how to support and deal with financial capability issues and where and when to refer to others for support. Money Talks? What with? Facilitated by Helen Cormack, Scotland’s Colleges, the aim of the session was to showcase and trial some readily available resources to assist facilitators to deliver support to learners. At the end of the session it was hoped that delegates would be able to access and use a range of resources to assist their learners with money matters. Trade Unions and Digital Participation Facilitated by Gerry Dougan, Scotland’s Colleges, this session looked at how unions can get involved in helping their members to get online, in light of the Scottish Government’s Digital Participation Strategy. Dyslexia Screening Facilitated by Jill Little Woodhouse, Usdaw, and Jock Munro, FBU, this session focused on the issues surrounding dyslexia screening for adults and delegates also had the opportunity to see a computer-based dyslexia screening tool. Wendy Burton, Scottish Union Learning, said, “Scottish Union Learning values partnership with other organisations such as Scotland’s Colleges, the Money Advice Service and Education Scotland. Through the Everyday Skills Event and our other national Conferences, we aim to give ULRs the resources they need to help workers improve their Everyday Skills”.

Jim Baxter, ASLEF Project Worker, enjoys a workshop with ULRs.

David Kendall from the Reading Agency addresses delegates.

ULRs participate in a workshop on Money Matters at Work, and learn about financial capability.

ULRs explore electronic resources that can help learners with money matters. 

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Aeronautical Engineer Named Apprentice of the Year An Ayrshire aeronautical engineer was named Scotland’s top apprentice at Skills Development Scotland’s Modern Apprenticeship Awards in December 2011. Judges presented the Outstanding Achievement Award to Jamie Gray, a Unite member who works at Spirit AeroSystems Ltd, in Prestwick. Jamie was a finalist in the Construction and Production Apprentice of the Year category of the Awards which were held at Glasgow’s Science Centre. Former catering assistant Jamie was “stunned but absolutely ecstatic” when he received the top award. He said, “I was amazed when I heard my name being called out. I was a quiet boy from a quiet village but was pushed to go for my dream job and I got the job and realised my dream. I would say to anyone to go for what they want, especially if it is an apprenticeship, to go for it and give it 110%”. Now an Engineer, Jamie explained, “I was always 

interested in engineering and applied for an apprenticeship with Spirit AeroSystems but didn’t think I had a chance. I was so pleased when I got the job”. He sees his Modern Apprenticeship as an ideal mix of learning and hands-on experience. Since he qualified, Jamie has continued to complete work-related training programmes and plans to study for a Higher National Diploma in Quality Management. Jamie is also one of the Apprentices featured in the Scottish Union Learning Modern Apprenticeship Toolkit, which is available online. Jim Cahill said, “Unite the Union is delighted that Jamie was named as Apprentice of the Year, as this is also praise for the members who take apprentices under their wings and encourage them along a very tough road. It also encourages the union to praise the company on its efforts and try to persuade them to start even more apprentices in the future”.

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Jimmy Lillis (left centre) was chosen to receive FirstGroup’s Regional Trade Union Learning Rep Award.

Unite Celebrates Learning Success with FirstGroup Unite the Union and FirstGroup hosted a learning conference to recognise the value and success of First’s workplace learning centres. First’s bus division, in partnership with Unite, has established more than 50 workplace learning centres at depots across the UK. The centres, which are staffed by ULRs, help First staff members develop and learn new skills, such as how to use a computer, the internet and email or improve numeracy and literacy skills. At First’s annual learning conference in Eastbourne, awards were presented to the bus division’s ‘Learning Centre of Excellence’ and ‘Lifelong Learner of the Year’. The event also recognised the important role that the ULRs play in the success of the learning centres with two award categories: ‘TULR Individual Progression Award’ and ‘Regional TULR Award’. First Glasgow’s Parkhead Depot won the ‘Learning Centre of Excellence Silver Award’ and First Glasgow’s Jimmy

Lillis from Larkfield Depot was the winner of the ‘Regional TULR Award’. Mick Dowds of Unite said, “FirstGroup is to be commended for its overall approach to lifelong learning. Working with First, we have developed one of the most successful lifelong learning partnerships in the passenger transport sector and opened more than 50 learning centres at First’s bus depots and facilities throughout the UK. These centres, which are staffed by fully trained ‘Trade Union Learning Representatives’, make an invaluable contribution to the development of our members.” Martin Carroll said, “As a founding participant of the former TGWU (Unite) Partnership with FirstGroup and lifelong Learning, I am delighted to be a small part of the success of this partnership. As FirstGroup Project Worker for Scotland, I have seen all of the ULRs grow and develop and provide a first-class service for our members”. 

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The STUC met with a delegation from the All China Federation of Trade Unions in January 2012.

Sharing an Eastern Perspective with the STUC In January 2012, the STUC General Council hosted a visit by a delegation from the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACTFU). During the visit, a number of presentations were made to the delegation on various aspects of the work of the STUC. Ann Garscadden, Scottish Union Learning Admin Manager, was invited to make a presentation to the Delegation on the work of Scottish Union Learning. With the help of an excellent interpreter, the delegation was given an outline of the role of Scottish Union Learning and the support which it provides to unions in delivering workplace learning for trade union members. Information was shared on the funding and delivery of learning in the two countries and on the value to be gained by learners, employers and the economy as a whole. The Chinese delegation was particularly interested in the network of ULRs which has been established in unions across Scotland. 10

Ann Garscadden said, “Although Scottish Union Learning operates on a very small scale in comparison to the All China Federation of Trade Unions which has around 230 million members, there were a number of similarities in the issues we face in organising learning. It was good to have the opportunity to compare notes and share good practice with trade unionists from another part of the world”. The ACFTU currently holds seat on the Workers’ Group of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Governing Body. Although not recognised by the International Trade Union Federation (ITUC) as an independent, free trade union organisation, the ITUC and a number of its affiliates, including the TUC, have a position of constructive dialogue with the ACFTU. The General Council will follow up this visit with the ACFTU and trade union learning will, no doubt, be a subject of further discussion.

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Highlands and Islands ULR Conference: 15th June 2012 The 5th Scottish Union Learning Highlands and Islands ULR Conference will take place on Friday, 15th June 2012 at Eden Court in Inverness.

During this event, delegates can attend workshops, interact with speakers and build contacts with other ULRs. To arrange attendance and release for this event, please contact your own trade union.

For further information, visit Up-to-date information on conferences and events is also available by following us on or 11

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Keeping the Books through PCS PCS recently offered a highly successful Accounting and Bookkeeping Introduction course for HMRC staff employed at Grayfield House in Edinburgh. Reid Kerr College delivered the course over a 10 week period to a group of 16 learners, 15 of whom achieved an SCQF Level 4 part qualification from SQA. The course was a resounding success with the learners who attended and who were most appreciative of the knowledge, ability and teaching style of the college tutor, Debbie Marshall. One learner wrote that this was “a thoroughly enjoyable, productive and very worthwhile course, very ably delivered by a tutor who tailored her responses to each individual and engaged all her students successfully in the learning process”. Kevin McIver, PCS Scotland Learning Organiser, said, “PCS ULRs have taken the lead in supporting colleagues in delivering a groundbreaking programme


to gauge and improve literacy and numeracy levels. Employers and key practitioners recognise that ULRs are pivotal in the delivery of the PCS Skills for Life programme with trust and confidentiality vital to its success. Our Learning Reps in HMRC East Kilbride have facilitated and supported members and staff through the Accounting and Bookkeeping Introduction course. PCS is delighted for all those involved in organising and participating in the course”. Many of the learners had not engaged in formal education for some time and were naturally apprehensive about undertaking an exam. The majority of learners felt that this course had given them increased skills in their current role as well as increased confidence in their ability to learn and the incentive to learn more. PCS and Reid Kerr College are to be congratulated on the success of this course.

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Benny McCarthy, First ScotRail (left) and John Malone, Rolls Royce (right) are both union learners.

Unite Learning Scotland: Workplace Learning Model Pat McIlvogue, Learning Organiser from Unite, and John Malone, workplace learner from Rolls Royce, were invited by the Open University to deliver a presentation to the Part-Time Forum. This is an annual conference organised by the University of the West of Scotland and The Open University in Scotland, which provides a platform for discussion of the key issues related to part-time learning. Throughout the last eight years, Part-Time Forum events have grown to become a highly-regarded focal point for debating and progressing policy related to parttime students and providers. The presentation highlighted Unite’s Learning Strategy for Scotland and Workplace Learning Model, including the role that ULRs play, and focused on the achievements of Rolls Royce worker John Malone, and Benny McCarthy who works for First Scotrail. John is a skilled worker, but had not undertaken any learning since his apprenticeship 30 years ago. He became re-engaged with learning though a social learning course in Spanish, and

then went on to complete basic I.T. courses, progressing to PC Passport and ECDL. He is now a student on the Open University BEng degree programme, with on-site support. Benny is a semi-skilled worker who undertook an Adult Apprenticeship Scheme organised by Unite. He has now completed a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) at Level 3 and National Certificate (NC) in Electrical/Mechanical Engineering. All courses undertaken by John and Benny were delivered within their own workplaces and around their shift patterns. Una Bartley, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the Open University in Scotland, said of the event, “Delegates were very interested in hearing about the work of the unions in encouraging people to consider higher education, and it was very effective not only to have a positive example to share, but also to hear the experience of a student”.


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Unions into Schools Rock Out to Songs for Social Justice Over the past eight months, Unions into Schools developed and piloted a new project on the subject of Songs for Social Justice. School pupils were encouraged to write, perform and record songs about their experience and understanding of social justice. Seven schools submitted a total of twelve songs to the STUC as part of the project. The songs were of an excellent standard and covered issues such as domestic abuse, youth unemployment and homophobia. In January, the young people came together alongside musicians and trade unionists to discuss the background to their songs and the historical and contemporary context of popular politicized music. Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said, “Encouraging school students to write songs relevant to them on the theme of social justice is an exciting opportunity for the Scottish TUC”. Sheena MacDonald, The Musicians’ Union, said, “Music and song has played a huge role in galvanising, sustaining and recording the struggles of ordinary people”. Jerry Dammers, The Specials, said, “I would advise musicians and artists of all ages to wake up to what is happening in the world and address it in their work. Record 14

companies may tell artists it will damage their career, but I think in the big picture the opposite is true. If artists don’t try and address serious issues at all, we are all, including the record companies, in danger of becoming a bit redundant. Pop music at its best has always had at least a bit of a connection to the social revolution”. Key to the project was the engagement of the school teachers, Julie McCrae a Teacher at Hillpark Secondary said “The STUC Songs for Social Justice was a tremendous opportunity for some of our young people to be heard and get positive and helpful feedback from the panel. As a teacher, I was moved by the genuine concerns about social justice issues of the young people involved and the passion and commitment they showed in producing their songs”. Terry Anderson, STUC Union and Community Development Officer, added “This pilot event helped to provide a communication outlet for school students in Scotland. A number of songs articulate a personal and emotional manner, they capture pain, hurt, joy and hope in a way that sometimes is the beauty of music and song”. Following the schools session, the STUC Centre was transformed into a venue for DJ sets from Jerry Dammers, Northern Xposure and Mark Linton.

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Swaziland: the Land of the Forgotten Despot By Geraldine Donnelly, Community the Union Swaziland is a country of a million people that is located between Mozambique and South Africa. I visited South Africa and Swaziland last year as part of an Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) delegation. What I saw both saddened and inspired me. Despite the overthrow of apartheid, another people in southern Africa are suffering under tyranny. Swaziland is a monarchy ruled by King Mswati since 1986. The Forbes Rich List named him one of the of the world’s richest royals, with a personal fortune of $100 million, enabling him to provide palaces for his 14 wives. In contrast, two-thirds of the people survive on one dollar a day. Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV rate and half the population dies before 40. One in 12 of all Swazi are orphaned children. Swaziland was judged by the UN to have a worse record on political rights than Zimbabwe. Swazi NUS president Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngebuni of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) are in jail, awaiting trial following their arrest in April. Women are subjected to horrendous levels of violence. A 2009 survey revealed that a third of women and girls aged 13 to 24 had experienced sexual violence before their 18th birthday. The law provides no protection for women from domestic violence or rape by their husbands. Married women are denied

the right to own property and widows are unable to inherit property if they are forced from their homes by their husbands’ relatives. However, the people of Swaziland fight on. The unions have held strikes and protests. Women and students have organised and a prodemocracy party, PUDEMO, was formed. In 2008, King Mswati held lavish celebrations to mark his 40th birthday and 40 years of independence, but the people responded by organising the country’s biggest pro-democracy protests with thousands crowding the streets of Manzini and in the capital Mbabane. The pro-democracy movement has called for sanctions, including the denial of international travel for the King and his lackeys, a ban on investment in companies controlled by the regime and an embargo on military sales. While there we listened, humbled, as student leaders told us of the danger of death or imprisonment, but they left us in no doubt that they will continue to fight until Swaziland is free. The international labour movement must support them.


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What’s up in 2012? Learning Matters March 7 14 15 23

Local Learning Forum, Dumfries Local Learning Forum, Fife Local Learning Forum, Tayside Multi-Link Local Learning Forum, Highlands and Islands

April 23-25

STUC Annual Congress

May 14-18 17 21-25

Adult Learners’ Week Learning at Work Day Scottish Apprenticeship Week

June 15 16

Scottish Union Learning Highlands and Islands ULR Conference, Inverness STUC Highlands and Islands Conference

* Please contact your own trade union to make arrangements to attend these events. Organisation of attendance and release is by your own trade union and is not the responsibility of Scottish Union Learning.

Scottish Union Learning STUC Centre: 333 Woodlands Road • Glasgow G3 6NG Tel: 0141 337 8111 Fax: 0141 337 8101 Highlands and Islands: UNISON Building • 53 Shore Street • Inverness IV1 1NF Tel & Fax: 01463 248 905 Email: • •

Copyright in this publication is held by the STUC unless otherwise stated. For further copies of this item contact Scottish Union Learning on 0141 337 8111 or at This text may also be made available, on request, in accessible formats such as braille and audio tape.

Available in large print

Scottish Union Learning News Spring 2012  

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