FDA Rep Lisa McGuinness has been recognised by the Scottish Trade Union congress (STUC) for her outstanding commitment and contribution to the union learning movement, receiving the 13th annual Helen Dowie Award.
Sponsored by The Open University in Scotland, the Award is presented each year at the STUC Annual Congress to recognise outstanding trade unionists who demonstrate commitment to union values and lead the learning movement forward.
Lisa works for HMRC and has been a committed FDA member since 2004 as well as a Union Learning Rep since November 2015 and the FDA lead on Learning in Scotland since November 2016.
She has played a pivotal role in developing the FDA in Scotland, especially in the period following the Independence Referendum, helping the union to build a more bespoke Scottish organising approach to increase membership, enhance effectiveness and enhanced the offer to existing members.
In addition to taking a leading role in taking forward an equal pay claim and supporting members in HMRC through industrial action over performance management issues, Lisa’s biggest contribution has been her leading role in building the FDA’s learning and development offer.
Working with both lay and full-time officials, Lisa has taken an inclusive approach to learning by engaging members of all unions as well as non-members, which has played a key role in increasing union density.
As a civil servant at a senior level, Lisa has been keen to help the union to the benefit of both learners and employers as well as support members to develop the skills they need to achieve their career goals. This includes actively participating in the FDA’s first Leadership Fund Project and helping to deliver two ‘Women into Leadership’ conferences in Scotland in 2016 and 2017, engaging over 450 female learners.
This first leadership project was so successful that Lisa then helped the FDA to deliver a second project in 2017 to engage members from diverse socio-economic and BAME backgrounds, leading a team of Union Learning Reps to deliver four full-day leadership training events as well as six follow up mentoring sessions.
Commenting on Lisa’s contributions to the union, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said that she had played a “pivotal role” in developing a more bespoke organising approach in Scotland and “enhancing the learning offer” to members of the FDA and other unions.
He added: “FDA membership growth in Scotland owes much to her and this nomination recognises both the union learning journey undertaken by Lisa and her role leading and engaging others.
“The FDA is proud of Lisa – and the growing group of Union Learning Reps that Lisa has been instrumental in helping us to build.”
Upon receiving the Award from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the STUC 2018 Annual Congress, Lisa said she was “extremely proud and spectacularly overwhelmed”.
Describing what drives her to continue leading union learning initiatives, Lisa explained: “Developing others and seeing individuals become the best they can be is something that I feel incredibly passionate about. It’s not always easy juggling work, family and union responsibilities but the satisfaction that comes from seeing people learn and develop is the bit that makes it all worthwhile for me.”
According to Lisa, she initially got involved in union learning purely to develop her own leadership capability but, after finding herself in “a room full of like-minded women, facing the same challenges and issues”, she realised that there was more she could do.
“Using our own skills and experience we’ve been able to use learning to reengage and reinvigorate our membership in Scotland, showing that the Union has more to offer than they first think,” she explained. “This has produced stronger leaders, who in turn are producing stronger leaders and I am extremely proud and privileged to have played a part in making that happen.”