'Immensely proud'

Unite AGS for equalities and political Diana Holland retires after more than three decades of service

Reading time: 4 min

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland retired from the union this week, after more than an incredible three decades of service with Unite and its predecessor union the T&G.

A retirement party was held for Diana at Unite’s central office in London and was attended by a number of Diana’s colleagues, friends, family and leaders from Unite, the Labour Party and the wider labour movement.

Diana first became involved with unions in 1982 in a workplace where there was no union. She and her colleagues came together and set up the union, and Diana then became a shop steward.

“All the time I had was spent encouraging other workers to join the union,” Diana recounted. “I had found where I belonged, and this has shaped the rest of my life. Whether as a shop steward, union tutor, regional officer, or at national level, it has been a great honour.”

Diana highlighted a number of “major achievements through massive struggles” that were won in her time serving in various leadership roles within Unite, including the Petroleum Driver Passport, Overseas Domestic Workers Visa, the National Minimum Wage, holiday rights for part-time workers, better maternity and family rights, and anti-discrimination protections.

She also noted “the many changes too achieved through representation and negotiation – some of which don’t hit either the headlines or picket lines, but which transform workplaces and people’s lives”.

Diana added, “In the union too, I am immensely proud of all that has been achieved – strong democratic structures for women, black and Asian ethnic minorities, disabled, young and LGBT+ members and for diverse and representative trade union leadership and voice at every level.”

Diana said she was also proud to have played a part in the wider movement with other unions, internationally including as Chair of the ITUC Women’s Committee, member of the ILO Experts group on violence against women and men in the world of work, Chair of the ITF Women Transport Workers’ Committee and beyond, with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Low Pay Commission, Equal Opportunities Commission, Ethical Trading Initiative, and wider campaigning with migrant domestic worker, anti-slavery, social justice, and anti-poverty organisations.

“I have also been honoured to represent our union in the TUC, CSEU and in the Labour Party on the NEC for 28 years, and as elected Treasurer for 12 years,” Diana went on to say.

She emphasised the need for the trade union movement to come together to “defeat this shameful Tory government at the next election — for the sake of working parents forced to turn to food banks to feed their children, for people feeling isolated and under pressure from all sides, for people at work struggling with the cost of living crisis, while eye-watering profits are being made, for safety and security from the cradle to the grave.

I am also determined we continue to build on firm, principled foundations passed down and built on throughout the generations, and to ensure we use every way possible to move forward and right the wrongs facing workers today,” Diana added.

“Our members, Executive Council, General Secretary Sharon Graham, officers, organisers, staff and our incredible Unite family of course continue to have my solidarity, support and dedicated commitment.”

Former Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke paid tribute to Diana and her work, noting, “Di has been a great comrade, always helpful — her knowledge and experience on equalities is unsurpassed.”

Unite East Midlands regional secretary Paresh Patel likewise thanked Diana “for all you have done and for making sure equalities remain at the heart of our great union”.

By UniteLive team