Union reps in Shetland are now able to get the training they need to help perform their duties which has previously only been available to their colleagues down south.
The TUC agreed to start courses in Lerwick after an open meeting in Lerwick in March and it intends running classes on a range of topics in the coming years, largely depending on what local union reps feel they want.
The first one held at Islesburgh Community Centre this week was for safety reps. After the summer courses are to include a stage one introduction for reps and sessions for equality reps.
The first course, run by tutor Mark Pollitt, involved reps from Unison, Unite, GMB and the Fire Brigades Union. Unite safety rep Graham Irvine said the training had already made a real difference back at work. “I definitely feel more confident in representing my members and it has been interesting to compare health and safety practices within different workplaces.”
GMB rep Kenny Groat, who works on the Bressay ferry, said he had always found any union training to be helpful in his role.
The training is being provided by TUC Education Scotland which uses Stow College’s trade union education department in Glasgow to put on courses around the country.
Mr Pollitt said Stow College trade union education department was delighted to be back in Lerwick. “We have always strived to ensure that union representatives have the opportunity to receive the training they require, wherever they are in Scotland. It is clear that workers in Shetland face the same difficulties facing workers throughout Scotland.
“The courses help to build the confidence and skills of the union representatives and help them to support and work with their members in the workplace. Union reps have also tended to find that their employers recognise the benefit of having trained, informed and skilled union reps in the workplace.”