NUJ Scotland delegates to the 2018 Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) in Aviemore have led the charge for increased representation of women.
The delegation comprised of Liz Ely, Simon Barrow, Jim Symonds and Scotland organiser Dominic Bascombe.
The NUJ motion challenging the representation of women in the media won support from all of the unions present at Congress, with many delegates queuing to speak during the debate.
The motion recognised the power of the media to affect the way that underrepresented groups see themselves and how consumers of media view them. It called for a joint and cohesive approach to tackle negative portrayal and messages.
Liz Ely, NUJ delegate, said:
“I have lost count of how many times I have heard groups of men on the radio discussing the gender pay gap, or the ‘me too’ movement. Whenever we have a platform we represent ourselves and affect how others see us. In the trade union movement and across the media we’re working to change how women and all oppressed groups are represented.”
Diljeet Bhachu, a musician and delegate of the Musicians’ Union, called attention to the issue of visibility. She said:
“Visibility has the power to raise aspiration, and encourage real inclusivity and equality. But to have some visibility is not enough. Tokenism is also damaging. Under-represented people are diverse, and representation needs to reflect this plurality too. People are more than their labels.”
The NUJ delegation also put forward a motion addressing the shameful strategy of media companies to increase the use of user generated content to the detriment of professional journalists. The approach to replace paid for, professional content affects the incomes of staff and freelance journalists.
A third NUJ motion calling on the STUC to explore different models of ownership considered the introduction of the cooperative model approach for some newspapers.
This comes on the heels of work by NUJ Scotland about cooperative ownership models for local newspapers that have been threatened with closure or severe editorial cuts.
Women are on the rise in the trade union movement in Scotland, newly elected STUC president Lynn Henderson said on the final day of the Scottish Trades Union Congress.
Henderson, who is Scottish secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, has called on men in the union movement to ‘Step Aside, Brother’. ‘Step Aside, Brother’ is an initiative seeking experienced male union reps to mentor women to take up union positions. Henderson paid tribute to her male counterparts in the movement who have done so, in order that more spaces and positions can be filled with female representatives.
“Every day employers are all ‘discovering’ embedded sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace. Our movement will be in the strongest possible position to continue to challenge this when women are leading.”
“We are serious about strengthening the power of workers. Our structures are adapting to reflect the society we wish for. Step Aside, Brother is about accelerating that change.”
Henderson’s remarks came as an upsurge of women-led campaigns has set the trade union agenda in the public and private sectors.
The theme of Glasgow may day will be the centenary of the extension of votes to some women, and the suffragette movement that secured this.