Category: Campaigns

Cheryl O'Brien

Cheryl O’Brien - Celebrating International Women’s Day

TSSA banner being held by two women

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year, it is a day of collective global activism and celebration that belongs to all those committed to forging women's equality.

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, we asked three activists from across our movement to tell us what the day means to them. In the second blog in the series, Cheryl O’Brien discusses the importance of International Women’s Day.

Cheryl has been a TSSA member for 21 years, she is currently Correspondence Secretary for Wales No.1 Branch and Divisional Council Secretary for Wales and Western.

“I joined TSSA back in the 90’s, on my second day working for GWR. I was already learning about Trade Unionism from my husband who was a Branch Officer and Workplace Rep for MPO (now GMB) in Cardiff City Council, so my interest had already been piqued. Later I was recruited as a Branch Officer by the late great Jack Gadsby, he was my mentor and had been involved in all sorts of union activities. I was lucky to meet some experienced and enthusiastic officers at Wales and Western DC. They encouraged me to become involved with the TSSA Democracy. This culminated with me becoming the EC member for our DC area. This was not without a few bumps in the road, but I persevered and thoroughly enjoyed my time on EC, eventually. 

Unionism has had a great deal of influence on how I look at life. Unbeknown to me at that time my maternal grandmother would turn out be my inspiration. Unfortunately, I didn’t know while she was alive, that she was actually Secretary to the local Labour Party, now we say CLP, way back in the 1930’s, when women really didn’t do that sort of thing. I had the distinct impression that she was probably involved with suffragette movement and the Labour Party had a been a natural progression for her. At election time my Grandfather was abandoned with their eight children while she went out canvassing and encouraging women to vote. My mother was also a union rep as was my sister, seems it ran in the family. 

International Women’s Day is a celebration of all women past, present and to come who have achieved and encouraged woman to get out there and do it for themselves.

Helping women to find equality in the workplace and to give us the confidence to have a career and a family.

For me, one of the greatest victories is giving women choices and supporting those choices, from maternity leave, women’s issues, nursery education for our children and equality in the workplace, unions have given women the chance to be who they want to be. 

I’m retired now and find myself to be a WASPI. Going forward I would like to see fair and equal pensions for all retired workers.

I am Woman

Like the mighty oak

I will stand proud,

shouting my victories

out to the crowd.

Walk forward with confidence,

swing my hips,

colour my eyes,

rouge on my lips,

take the world by surprise;

For I am a woman needing no permission

to live my life,

take my position,

have views of my own

in a world where men would,

slap me down if only they could.

I can bend like the willow

be soft and flowing,

wear my heart on my sleeve

without it showing.

Be measured and reasoned

in all that I do,

take the the knocks

and the punches,

the rolls of the dice

dust myself off

to make life paradise:

Just don’t mess me around

take advantage of me

for coffins you know

are made from a tree.

Cheryl O’Brien 

TSSA members attending a rally

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