15 November 2021

Getting active to represent women in PCS

Liz blogs about attending the recent Scottish women's TUC and about how she became active in PCS 

In October I attended the Scottish TUC Women’s conference, which was held online.

PCS had four delegates, Fran Heathcote, Sharon Green, Ruth Henderson and myself, and we all took our turns to contribute to the important debates.

I seconded a motion on sexual harassment in the workplace, highlighting the very real need for a statutory code of practice to ensure correct measures are in place to tackle it where it happens.

I also spoke in support of a motion on climate change, calling for a pro-public just transition which tackles issues of inequality.

There were a number of trade union videos, including one from PCS rep Nadine Gorman talking about the period dignity campaign she ran in her branch.

Pupils from three schools addressed the conference, talking about the issues that impact on them. It was truly inspiring to see the future of our movement will be in safe hands with these young women.

The virtual conference still provided the usual feeling of sisterhood, however it saddened me that there is a need for many of the motions that were debated. It highlighted the need for women representation.

How I became active in PCS

I started by doing what we now call an advocate role. I helped organise meetings and picket lines, raised issues with the reps and fed back to members. I then became a union learning rep, and before I knew it I was branch equality officer and chair of the branch women’s advisory committee (BWAC).

I also sat on DWP group women’s advisory and equality advisory committees before being elected onto the GEC.

I was elected as the first woman chair of my branch. I am also vice-chair of the Scotland Committee and I was elected this year onto the NEC. I have been really enjoying the extra responsibilities.

My next chapter includes being a member of the STUC Women’s Committee, which was endorsed at conference. I look forward to working with the committee on the motions we passed.

I would encourage women to become more involved in PCS. Become an advocate, speak to your branch about a BWAC, look out for any seminars or women’s events. Women make up the majority of our members and our union should reflect that.