Solidarity and sisterhood at the STUC

By Lorna Duncan, RCM Workplace Representative on 01 November 2022 Maternity Services Midwifery Workforce TUC Trade Unions Scotland Scottish Government Scottish Maternity Services

RCM workplace representative Lorna Duncan joined RCM Scotland Director Jaki Lambert and National Officer Jackie Mitchell for the two day Scotland Trade Union Congress (STUC) Woman’s Committee. In her blog, Lorna shares the motions put forward by the RCM and the experience of advocating for members among a sisterhood of activists.

On arrival at the venue in Glenrothes, a huge wave of impostor syndrome surged through my body as I absorbed the overwhelming feeling that the women attending, and speaking were seasoned professionals and were here on serious business.

The venue was warm, friendly and focused on two days of work endorsed by the STUC Woman’s Committee ensuring woman’s voices are heard, Governments are lobbied, and issues are kept on the industrial and political agenda.

A packed agenda focussed on a range of topics related specifically to the working lives of women. They included the cost-of-living crisis, harassment and violence against women, discrimination at work, employment rights and woman’s health, wellbeing and services.

Approximately 150 women with the weight of the world on their shoulders informed, educated and appealed to us to support their motions. Tears were shed, applause was loud, and support and solidarity was overwhelming. I was humbled by the personal and harrowing accounts shared by speakers who chose to relive and recite traumatic experiences that no woman should ever have to endure.

The RCM put forward two motions. Jaki Lambert spoke first to the fix staff shortages in NHS Scotland maternity services. Jaki reiterated the RCM survey findings, reporting the need to improve retention and recruitment, value staff and help us make midwifery an attractive career. As always, Jaki was the consummate professional bringing recognition of the complexities in midwifery to the Woman’s Committee for urgent attention.

I was tasked with speaking to the second motion, addressing the impact of health inequalities on maternity outcomes. Unfortunately, I left my notes in the hotel, so trying not to appear completely menopausal and incompetent I suggested that I could use my super magnifying spec to read from the tiny printed version in the programme.

Fortunately, Jackie became my PA for a nerve racking thirty minutes while she asked Sharon if she could send a copy of my motion to the venue. Thankfully, all went to plan and I managed to put forward my motion with the help of Team RCM.

A small social gathering was organised after the first day. Friendships forged. I entered the venue on day one a complete novice, first time delegate and first time speaker. I left the venue on day two an enriched, empowered, and informed sister.