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Highland artist wins trade union Learner of the Year Award

Scoraig based artist Fadzai Mwakutuya wins Scottish Union Learning Learner of the Year Award.

One of Scotland’s leading artists has been recognised for her contribution to union learning.

Fadzai Mwakutuya, a visual artist based on the remote peninsula of Scoraig, received the Learner of the Year Award 2023 at the STUC Annual Congress in April in Dundee. The award praised Fadzai’s union activism, highlighting her commitment to advocating for her fellow workers.

Fadzai joined the Scottish Artists Union (SAU) in 2018 and has been a fantastic contributor to many learning workshops and has gone onto become a key advocate for SAU’s work.

Fadzai, who was presented the Learner of the Year Award from First Minister Humza Yousaf at the Congress, joined the SAU Executive Committee in 2019 and was a serving member for two years throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The award is supported by The Open University in Scotland.

Commenting, Fadzai Mwakutuya said:

“It’s a great privilege to have received the Scottish Union Learning Learner of the Year Award with all praise and gratitude going to my colleagues within the Scottish Artists Union.

"Being based in a remote area of the highlands, it can often be difficult to access training and support, but Scottish Union Learning and the Scottish Artists Union have been great at making their events accessible.

"Taking part in union learning courses has been a transformational experience and I feel lucky to have met so many like-minded artists and activists. The welcoming, creative environment has empowered me to keep making art and actively participate within and contribute to the wider arts community. It has made me a more confident trade unionist and has given me skills that I can apply to many aspects of my life.

"When we all come together, trade unionists can make real changes in workplaces, industries and in communities. That’s precisely why I’m a proud member of the Scottish Artists Union.”


Commenting, STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer said:

“Right across Scotland, in every sector of the economy, our reps and shop stewards are the face of our trade union movement in our workplaces and in our communities. Our annual Union Rep Awards celebrate these stalwarts and all those who have gone above and beyond this past year.

"This year was no exception and Fadzai thoroughly deserves her recognition as the recipient of the Learner of the Year Award for 2023.

"She is a driven and dedicated learner, artist and trade unionist and has tirelessly supported other artists of colour who’ve came forward with discriminatory working conditions.

"Our reps are the lifeblood of our movement; an incredible force for good in helping others in need. Every single one of them deserves an award for the amazing work that they do and they have my utmost praise as they ingrain trade union values throughout their workplaces.”


Commenting, Wendy Burton, Director of Scottish Union Learning, said:

“We are absolutely thrilled that Fadzai has received our Learner of the Year award. Fadzai has been extremely proactive in engaging in learning opportunities facilitated by the Scottish Artists Union and Scottish Union Learning. Fadzai’s journey is a wonderful example of how workers can grow their skills and confidence, and she demonstrates the benefits union learning can bring, not only to the learners themselves, but also to their respective unions.

"Fadzai is an inspiration to us all, and we wish her all the very best for the future, as an exceptional artist, learner, and union activist.”


Commenting, Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland, said:

"Access to learning opportunities is vital for Scotland’s communities and workforce.

"The Open University in Scotland is proud to continue to work alongside Scottish Union Learning and the STUC, to deliver a wide range of learning to union members throughout Scotland, including in remote and rural areas.

"We are delighted to support the Scottish Union Learning Learner of the Year Award, which this year recognises Fadzai’s work to support and encourage fellow union learners within Scotland’s arts community. Many congratulations to Fadzai as the worthy winner of this award."


Watch Fadzai's story in the STUC Learner of the Year short film below: