Inspired by our past, building for the future for women workers

The 95th Annual STUC Women’s Conference took place in Glenrothes on the 31st October and 1st November. The theme ‘Inspired by our Past, Building for the Future’ was strongly carried throughout the conference, with reflections on past trade union struggles and contributions from young women who spoke strongly about future aspirations for women’s rights.

Our EIS delegation powerfully represented the Union and spoke in relation to a range of issues, from tackling sexual harassment, period inequality, child poverty and women’s health, to standing together in sisterly solidarity and supporting emerging young activists.

The EIS’ own motions on Gender Pay Justice and No Detriment to Pregnant Workers and Parents were moved to resounding support, by EIS President Andrene Bamford, and Ex-President Heather Hughes, respectively.

With Maree Todd, the Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport visiting the Conference, President Andrene Bamford took the opportunity to ask her what measures will be put in place to address the disproportionate impact of the cost of living crisis on women. With little in terms of concrete proposals forthcoming, the delegation agreed that it would have liked more details from the Minister on plans to address the looming crisis and the disproportionate impact which it is having on women and children’s inequality and health. The EIS will continue to raise these issues and to highlight the devastating effects of rising child poverty as key priorities in the Union’s equality campaigning.

As the Conference closed, the delegation was delighted to see EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley appointed as Chair of the STUC Women’s Committee and is looking forward to Andrea hosting the STUC Women’s Conference, next year.

Following the theme of the conference and building for the future, we hope many more women members will consider nominating themselves to join our delegation for the conference next year. Here, we share five testimonies from this years’ delegation, to inspire delegations to come.

Voices from the conference

Terri Connolly,
South Lanarkshire

Attending the Women’s Conference is akin to belonging to a large welcoming diverse family which consists of sisters from many walks of life.

My fellow sisters are there to represent their unions and to ask for justice, equity, fairness and equality in their workplace.

As a ‘seasoned attendee’ who has written, spoken and contributed to many debates since 2005, this year was yet another opportunity to support a motion asking for work policies to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. Part of my contribution included my own and other sister’s experiences of this before I started teaching and examples of sexual harassment by the media. The motion was carried unanimously as were all the other 40+ motions, and will be actioned during the coming years by the Committee.

Sadly this was my last conference as I have now retired from teaching but I know that my sisters and I will continue to ‘fight the fight’ for women in the workplace until equity, fairness, equality and justice is achieved.

As Michelle Obama stated, “As women we must stand up for ourselves, we must stand up for each other, we must stand up for justice for all.”

I would like to say to everyone involved in the EIS and to other unions involved in organising the conference a big Thank You!

If you as an EIS member ever get the chance to be part of such a wonderful experience, grab it with both hands!

Sarajane Moffat,
Dumfries and Galloway

The STUC women’s conference was once again an inspiring couple of days. Many important issues were raised and it was a really invaluable experience to hear from a broad range of Trade Unions. The theme of the conference really fitted with the feel of everything that was discussed – Inspired by our Past Building for the Future. In speaking to a motion focusing on this and the importance of building our membership especially among younger females I highlighted the importance the EIS and the wonderful women and role models within the organisation have had in helping me find my voice and expressing a need to continue to encourage our young women and members to use their voice and find a ‘channel for their rage!’

I was left with a wonderful feeling of solidarity and hope for the future.

Lynn Davis,

Honoured & humbled to be part of the EIS delegation that attended the STUC Women’s Conference.

A fantastic conference, meeting & listening to knowledgeable, inspirational women from all trade unions, who raised motions & debated topics such as food poverty & insecurity, fuel poverty, women’s health – (including periods, menopause, endometriosis all of which are often ignored or overlooked), sexual harassment, and the need to view society through an intersectional lens.

The conference’s unequivocal desire to ensure fair & equal pay, demonstrating solidarity with all who are undertaking strike action or balloting for strike action. The recognition of hardship felt during the cost of living crisis, affecting all of our communities, but more so with our already disadvantaged communities who are desperately just trying to stay afloat.

Women shared experiences passionately, with the desire to raise awareness, inspire & develop others, which included me.

This was my first conference, my first experience of being in a delegation, my first in delivering a speech & seconding a motion at conference.

It truly was a fantastic experience & I look forward to further opportunities to learn, to listen, but also to use my voice and my experience to raise awareness of the issues which are of fundamental importance.

Jacqui Church,

It was an absolute privilege to attend my first STUC women’s conference. I experienced a multitude of emotions in quick succession standing alongside my sisters from the EIS and other unions. I learned a lot about the issues facing women across the workforce and as a result have brought these back into the staffroom to highlight and champion their causes and campaigns. My highlight was meeting the inspiring EIS activists and experiencing their support for the conference and the future.

I feel stronger and empowered to make a difference and make my sisters proud!

Jacqui MacKenzie,
North Ayrshire

It was an absolute privilege to be a part of such a wonderful EIS delegation at the STUC Women’s Conference as a first-time delegate and first-time speaker. I would not have had the confidence to put myself forward if it had not been for my previous attendance at the STUC Women’s Weekend School mock conference in August.

I spoke in support of Motion 31, Tackling Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a health and safety issue – everyone has a right to work in a safe environment and employers should take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment at work. Often sexual harassment is dealt with under dignity & respect policies which use harassment as a blanket term making it difficult to apply specifically to sexual harassment. Workplaces should have robust sexual harassment policies to call it out for what it is and deal with it quickly and appropriately.