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by Rebecca McQuillan
06 November 2019
STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith to retire after 14 years


STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith to retire after 14 years

Grahame Smith has announced that he will retire as general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) in May next year.

He said: “For over 30 years, 14 as general secretary, it has been an honour and a privilege to have served the Scottish trade union movement. I could ask no more of my working life than to have had the opportunity to support our unions in their efforts to improve the lives of working people, their families and communities.

“While I’m looking forward to devoting more time to personal interests, I hope to continue to make some contribution to Scotland’s industrial, political and civic life in the period ahead, doing so of course in the interest of working people.”

Grahame Smith was appointed General Secretary of the STUC in November 2006.

An economics and industrial relations graduate from Strathclyde University, he joined the STUC in 1986 as an NHS campaign coordinator. He was appointed as an STUC Assistant Secretary in 1988 and as STUC Deputy General Secretary in 1998.  

Smith added: “I am extremely grateful to those many colleagues, past and present, for the comradeship, support, advice and encouragement that has made my time at the STUC so personally fulfilling.

“I would also like to thank those in Scotland’s political, industrial and civic life with whom I’ve worked over many years, for their courtesy and respect. While we may not have always agreed, I rarely doubted our shared desire to make our country a better place for everyone to live and work.”

The STUC President Jackson Cullinane said the organisation would miss Smith’s “leadership, his dedication, and his acumen”.

He said: “We are sorry that Grahame has decided to retire as our General Secretary.  Grahame has been a tremendous asset to the STUC. For more than three decades he has been a committed, passionate and effective trade unionist and champion of workers’ interest.

“Grahame has led the STUC through a period of considerable economic and political turbulence. In that period there have been few economic developments over which the STUC, and Grahame personally, has not had an important influence.  The prominence given to inclusive, sustainable economic growth; to fair work; to tackling inequality; and to the expansion of apprenticeships and work-based learning are some of many such examples. The creation of Scottish Union Learning, which he initiated, now provides thousands of workers every year with the chance to improve their skills and develop their careers.

“Less visible, but no less important, Grahame has led a major reform of the STUC’s internal governance and put our finances on a firm footing.”

Commenting on the announcement First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Grahame is a dedicated and passionate spokesperson for the rights of workers and the role of trade unions and it has been a privilege to work with him. Since being appointed General Secretary of the STUC in 2006 he has made sure the views of working people are heard in government and by employers around the country and I am sure he will continue to contribute to public life. 

"His important role in pushing the government to introduce the Fair Work First policy is highly valued, as is his contribution to industrial relations, and his pivotal contribution to the development of Scottish Union Learning. I wish him all the best for his well-deserved retirement next year.”



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