STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning

Helen Dowie Award 2012


Unite the Union Learning Rep

Diageo Kilmarnock

The 7th Annual STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning recipient was Janette Dunbar, a Unite Union Learning Rep at Diageo Kilmarnock.

Diageo Kilmarnock was the home of Johnnie Walker Whiskey. After the employer announced controversial plans in late 2009 to close the Kilmarnock plant, Janette was in the forefront of fighting to save the hundreds of jobs at the site.

Upon being elected as the Site Convenor in 2010, Janette put her organising abilities and dynamic style into action as she became the driving force behind supporting members through the ‘ins and outs’ of the redundancy situation.


Janette decided that a lifelong learning programme for the site was the best avenue to support workers during the site closure.

In February 2011, Janette was trained as a Union Learning Rep along with a group of other trade union activists. She then set about the task of analysing the learning and training needs of those who were faced with redundancy.

In just over a year as the Lead Union Learning Rep for the site, Janette analysed 730 learning requests and collectively bargained around these with the employer and external learning partners, including PACE, to provide courses for Unite members at Diageo Kilmarnock. Janette addressed the frustration felt by the workers on site by organising learning opportunities in the workplace and delivering them around members’ shift times and days off.

Janette was presented with the 7th Annual Award at the STUC Annual Congress in Inverness in April 2012 by First Minister Alex Salmond.