Tesco Union Rep from Ayrshire wins STUC One Workplace Equality Award

April 14th 2014

First Minister Alex Salmond will present this year’s Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) One Workplace Equality Award to recognise the role of Scottish trade union members in promoting equality in the workplace. (11:20 hrs, Tuesday 15th April 2014) at the STUC Annual Congress in Dundee

This year’s One Workplace Equality Award recipient is Graham Newport a member of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW).

A trade union equality rep for five years, Graham works at Tesco Extra in Irvine where he is an equality activist and Shop Steward. Graham has successfully campaigned on equality issues to build union organisation, realising that equality issues need to be at the heart of the work of unions.

Graham understood that his members were predominantly women workers in an increasingly 24/7 sector, consequently travelling to work was a core issue for union members, most of whom work in retail.

In one retail location, Graham identified that members working on late shift patterns felt unsafe travelling home. He conducted a survey in-store and used the findings to consult with management – and ensured that members knew that the union was taking up the issue. Graham even spoke to the local bus company to ask the drivers of the late bus, which sometimes left early, to wait until staff from the store got to the bus stop.

Graham has also been highly influential in developing USDAW’s work to support lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) members and encourage other under-represented groups to become more involved in the union’s work. Issues affecting LGBT members are sometimes not spoken about or not as prominent as other trade union campaigns.* LGBT activists and reps challenging homophobia in the workplace can still be victims of homophobia and transphobia.

Graham set up an online forum to offer advice and support for LGBT members, ran workplace campaigns on LGBT and other equality issues, and has spoken at conferences on related issues such as rights for same sex parents, LGBT harassment and mental health. He also helped organise USDAW’s presence at several pride festivals and recruited new members there.

Graham’s work has led to a marked increase in the number of new LGBT members taking part in union activity and he is a worthy recipient of this year’s One Workplace Equality Award.

Speaking prior to receiving the award from the First Minister, Graham Newport said: “Proud is an under-statement and I am still pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming, especially as it was a happy day when I heard the news of the award but in hindsight, a little sad to think that equality issues are still rife wherever we look, not just for LGBT workers but for disabled, black and ethnic minority and women as well. “

STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith commented: “By reaching out beyond the union’s formal structures, Graham’s work has ensured that LGBT issues have a much higher profile across the union. He is a role model for less active members and we are delighted that he represents his union on the STUC’s LGBT Workers Committee.”

ENDS

For more information contact Zaffir Hakim, One Workplace, 075909 27576 or Ann Henderson, STUC Assistant Secretary 07875 208 167

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