Shavanah Taj has become acting General Secretary of the Wales Trades Union Congress (TUC), taking over from Martin Mansfield.
Shavanah Taj joins Wales TUC from the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), where she has been the Welsh Secretary since 2013.
Martin Mansfield has taken up a secondment with Welsh Government, joining the new Social Partnership & Fair Work Directorate.
Shavanah Taj said: “This is a great honour. Never has a strong, organised, responsive trade union movement been so needed.
“This feels like a critical time for our movement. Brexit and the impact of climate change and automation are just a few of the major issues that will impact working people’s and families’ lives. We need to be a strong, loud, collective voice to make sure we get the best possible outcomes.
“And it’s also a really exciting time. We’re making sure that people are better protected at work than ever before through guidance and agreements on tackling sexual harassment, non-guaranteed hours, combatting the far right and creating menopause-aware workplaces.
“Welsh Government will also be taking forward social partnership legislation that will offer genuine protections for workers’ rights and delivering on the recommendations of the Fair Work Commission, which we fully support. This will place trade unions and collective bargaining at the heart of fairer work in Wales.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“We’re delighted that Shavanah is stepping into the leadership of the Wales TUC.
“I’ve known Shavanah a long time. She will put her heart and soul into winning for working families in Wales, cracking down on insecure contracts and making work fairer for everyone.
“At a time when growing our movement is more important than ever, she will bring the intelligence, passion and integrity that working people need.”
Prior to joining PCS as a full-time officer in 2002, Shavanah worked in retail, call centres and the third sector. From 2018 to 2019, she served as the President of the Wales TUC.
Cardiff born and raised, Shavanah grew up steeped in the trade union movement. Her father was a Health and Safety representative in the steel works.
“He always encouraged us to stand up for ourselves and stand with others in their time of need” Shavanah says.
Shavanah is passionate about equality, social justice and human rights. She is a patron of Show Racism the Red Card Wales, and a trustee for the Henna Foundation which supports victims and survivors of domestic abuse and honour-based violence. She’s also a trustee for Fio, a grassroots theatre group that encourages young working-class people to engage with arts and culture.
Shavanah still lives in Cardiff and is married with two young children, aged 6 and 8.
Watch Shavanah speak to Wales.Pol podcast about the role of unions, why they matter and why you should join a union.
Shavanah’s appointment precedes the TUC’s annual HeartUnions week. HeartUnions week is marked by the TUC in the week of Valentine’s day as an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the work that trade unions do to help working people up and down the country every day. During HeartUnions week Wales TUC will be supporting unionised workers with recruitment, and will be running a campaign on sexual harassment in the work place. For more information see https://www.tuc.org.uk/heartunions
Shavanah will shortly be one of four women leading trade union congresses in Britain and Ireland. Frances O’Grady is General Secretary of the TUC, Patricia King is General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trades Unions and the Scottish Trades Unions Congress recently announced that Rozanne Foyer is to replace Grahame Smith as its General Secretary later this year.
Wales Trade Union Congress (TUC) is the voice of Wales at work, representing around 400,000 workers across 48 affiliated unions. We campaign for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and abroad. It is a constituent part of the TUC.