McVitie's man is Union Learning Representative of the Year

View Latest News Publish Date: 13-Sep-2011

McVitie's man is Union Learning Representative of the Year

Jonathan Waterhouse a member of the USDAW trade union has been awarded Union Learning Rep (ULR) of the Year today at a ceremony at TUC Congress in London, for his success in introducing hundreds of his colleagues at McVitie's, Manchester, to learning.


A negative experience of school with teachers who he describes as not interested meant that he left the education system without qualifications in either English or maths. But, this negative experience of education made him the ideal candidate to become union learning rep coordinator when USDAW opened an on-site learning centre at the Manchester McVitie's factory in 2008.


Jonathan, who works on the Penguin biscuit production line, gained his own literacy and numeracy qualifications after training as a ULR, partly to fill in the gaps left by his own education and partly because he is a firm believer in leading by example. He said


"If you've got someone who is in his 50s with no qualifications and you try to interest them in English and maths, it needs to be in an environment where they feel relaxed - and I think we've cracked that, because our learners have achieved more than 150 Skills for Life qualifications."


Jonathan and his nine fellow ULRs have encouraged 150 colleagues to take up the myguide beginner computer courses, he runs the Reading Agency's Six Book Challenge and has established an NVQ programme which has led to 100 McVitie's workers gaining Level 2 qualifications. Jonathan is proud of the way learning has changed from being an added extra to becoming part and parcel of everyday life in the factory.


Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said:

"Millions of workers up and down the country have benefited from the fantastic work done by union reps in thousands of branches. These reps put in a lot of time, hard work and effort to help their colleagues. I am delighted that their achievements have been recognised at Congress and they fully deserve the applause they receive from delegates."


John Hannett, Usdaw general secretary, said;

"Many congratulations and good luck to Jonathan and his team of ULRs at McVitie's, Manchester. By promoting lifelong learning they have given hundreds of their members a second chance to improve their skills, increase their confidence, and enhance their employment prospects. It's a win-win situation for both workers and the company and credit to the management at McVitie's who I know have been very supportive."


Members of the Work Place Learning Centre team are available to provide journalists and media organisations with expert comment on all aspects of learning at work.

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