Little did Gwyn Stevenson know when he started working at a dairy factory eight years ago that his role as a dryer operator would lead him into the world of unionism. The Balclutha local was based at a factory in Clydevale, where he worked on making milk into batches of infant formula.
During his first off-season, Gwyn noticed that his company was “giving us a run around with pay”. So, he decided to organise a meeting with the New Zealand Dairy Workers Union, with 25 of his fellow workers signing up in one go.
“Then the organiser said, at some stage, someone will need to step up and become a delegate. I didn’t have any idea what it really meant, but I said I’d give it a go, and found myself quite enjoying it.”
Now Gywn himself is training to be an E tū organiser, thanks to a grant from the Otago Southland Furniture Workers Union Trust.
Retiring organiser Mike Kirwood, along with Bob Batchelor and John Edie, established the trust, which is a legacy from the Otago Southland Furniture Workers Union, to support projects that would benefit union work in Otago and Southland.
So far, the trust has donated more than $20,000 to various union causes.