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Congratulations to Jennifer Spratling and Simon Jordan on receiving rep of the year awards.

Today at the Wales TUC annual Congress in Llandudno, First Minister Mark Drakeford presented Jennifer Spratling with the ‘rep of the year’ award.

Jennifer, a year one teacher from Cardiff, gained the award for her achievements in leading the successful strike action at Howell’s school in Cardiff. The action eventually resulted in her members’ pensions being protected when they were under threat. Her tireless work will have a huge impact on the long-term income of teachers in retirement.

Howell’s is a private school owned by a company called GDST and when they told staff that they wanted to take teachers out of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, Jennifer swiftly came forward to defend her members and colleagues.

Jennifer led the strike action at the school. She organised existing members and recruited colleagues, who were not in a union previously. She spoke at rallies and at parents’ meetings. Ultimately her efforts not only resulted in the action being successful, but also the school now has the largest growth of NEU membership of any sector in Wales.

Watch Jennifer tell her story:  

Jennifer was ecstatic when she found out she had won the Wales TUC rep of the year award, and she recognises the importance of a strong union in any workplace dispute.

She says: “This is the first time there has ever been strike action across the trust. 95 per cent of our staff were NEU members by the time we went to strike action, which is unheard of generally.”

Her success has also had an impact beyond just her school but across the UK “and actually, across the trust it has joined all the schools together in a way that we had never done before.”

Assistant Secretary of Cardiff NEU, Geraint Williams knows the award is extremely well deserved.

He said: “Jennifer has done amazing things for her members. They were under threat of losing their pensions, really important conditions that everyone needs as part of their role. Jennifer has worked really hard to bring solidarity with our members to essentially stop that from happening.”

This is the first time in a number of years that the Wales TUC has run the rep of the year awards. They have been reintroduced this year in order to highlight the excellent work that thousands of workplace reps all over Wales have been doing in especially challenging times over the last few years. Keeping workers safe, protecting their terms and conditions and supporting them in their careers and with their wellbeing.

Health and Safety rep of the year

The second award to be given out today was for Health and Safety rep of the year, which went to Simon Jordan from USDAW.

Simon is the shop steward at TESCO distribution In Magor. He was nominated for his hard work in not only maintaining health and safety standards at the site during one of the busiest ever periods in the retail and distribution sector, but improving on them.

Simon works the night shift, where he has secured 98% union membership, but also regularly supports colleagues on the day shift by coming in on his own time.

Wales TUC General Secretary, Shavanah Taj said:

“It’s vitally important that we highlight the work of workplace reps. These awards are only a tiny gesture when you compare it to the incredible work that both Jennifer and Simon have done and the impact they have had on their colleagues.

"Union reps make such an important difference to so many workers in Wales. They were key during the pandemic and maybe even more so now as workers are struggling with the cost of living and need their terms and conditions and their rights protected.

“I am so glad that Jennifer and Simon have received the recognition they deserve. Well done to Jennifer and Simon and all the other reps who were nominated for these awards”