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2023 Congress Awards - winners

Congratulations to our Congress Awards 2023 winners! These inspiring and passionate individuals represent what the trade union movement stand for.

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Afshan Ali – RCM

Union Learning Rep Award

Afshan is a vital member of a local RCM branch, which following pressures due to Covid, led to all the committee members except her standing down. Asfhan worked hard to recruit new members, and single handedly promoted important pay campaign messages at a difficult and challenging time. Membership in Afshan's branch ranges from maternity support workers, midwives and senior managers. She makes sure that the learning needs of all those in the branch are taken into consideration.

Sarita Healey – NEU

Organising Award

Sarita's dynamic leadership, particularly during the trade dispute over Trust status, and the fact that she was seen by all staff to be active and effective as a rep, resulted in a significant increase in membership at the school. Sarita led negotiations with confidence, putting the views of members across with great skill. Members took great strength from this, resulting in the school group voting for strike action - something which would not have been possible without Sarita's inspirational leadership. Furthermore, she organised the most vibrant and effective picket lines imaginable. These are now legendary and are a great 'benchmark' for what a great picket should look like and be.

Charlie Gough – Usdaw

TUC Youth Award

Charlie enthusiasm completely turned his Tesco store in Rock Ferry around through speaking to young colleagues about the union and its benefits, bringing the membership and to where it is now at 83%. He brought similar energy to the North West Young Workers' Committee by encouraging young people in the region to sign up and play an active role - as a result the committee is now full with a waiting list. Charlie's mantra is the youth are the lifeblood of our union and if we don’t get more young people involved in our movement then we will cease to exist. One of the ways he did this was by starting a newsletter (New Dawn) written by young workers’ for young workers. Others have started to look up to him by following in his footsteps, which is great for Usdaw and the future of the union.

Heather McKenzie – NEU

Women's Gold Award

Since the inception of NEU, Heather has worked with women executive members to redress the imbalance of power within our structures. She has been instrumental in organising support for agreement to safeguard seats on the national executive committee for women. An agreement that was passed and have now been enacted to ensure that at least 50% of the committee seats are held by women. Heather played an integral role in organising women members to influence change in their favour within the movement by sharing her knowledge and supporting others to understand that what they have to say is valid and shared by others. She is a dedicated organiser and seeks no praise for the work she has done to empower other women. She is the epitome of a woman trade unionist - it runs through her blood. 

Simon Wilde – GMB

Health & Safety Award

Simon is proudest of his refusal to be deterred in forcing his employer to accept their responsibilities and change their unsafe working practices. As he says: “I set out to make a change and stuck at it all the way through from my first initial grievance to the long, drawn-out appeal process." Simon has been campaigning for many years for driver's safety when delivering to customers' premises, especially with regards to using stairs and third-party equipment. Through sheer perseverance, he succeeded in forcing the company to create a standardised process for risk assessing the delivery to point of storage. Best Food had previously insisted that safety was the responsibility of the hosting customer, and as such there were no health and safety standards in place for the workforce. Simon has utterly transformed the approach the employer takes.


Original article link: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/2023-congress-awards-winners

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