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New Chancellor calls on bosses to value workers

23 November 2005 @TeesUniNews


The new Chancellor of the University of Teesside, former trade union leader Tom Sawyer, focused on the need of modern management to reward and value their employees, when he gave his first speech at a graduation ceremony today (25 November 2005).

Referring to a book that had a great influence on him as a young trade unionist in Darlington in the late 60s and early 70s - Useful Work versus Useless Toil by William Morris; Lord Sawyer said: “Most of us know what it is like to be given useless toil – the boredom of a routine or seemingly pointless task. And conversely all of us have experienced the satisfaction and fulfilment that comes from doing something useful and important.

“When you are valued hard work becomes pure pleasure and makes us glad to commit time and effort and make sacrifices in the knowledge that we are making a difference.”

Speaking on the final day of the University’s Academic Awards Ceremony in Middlesbrough Town Hall, Lord Sawyer of Darlington, said: “William Morris wanted to create a world where all work would be useful, enjoyable and creative. And today this ideal can really begin to come true, as we rely on computers and modern technology to take the routine and the dull out of work.

“The work that we do defines our status, it helps define how we live our lives, and it gives us a sense of confidence and self-worth. So the world of work being so central to our lives should embody the values we deem to be important in our lives and in our communities.”

The former Deputy General Secretary of the public service union, UNISON, and ex-General Secretary of the Labour Party, set out his agenda for modern industrial relations, saying:

“Equality of opportunity, not discrimination; fairness not favours; merit not patronage – these would be a good start for me.”

He added: “I trust that those of you who will be managing people will think about how you can help those people working for you to find their work rewarding, useful and enjoyable. And I can tell you this – if you make sure your people are properly rewarded and feel valued they will walk through walls for you! You will grow in stature and will know that you have contributed to building the kind of society and community that we all want to live in.”

Earlier in the speech to Science and Technology graduates, Lord Sawyer thanked his predecessor, Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, who served as University Chancellor for 12 years.

During today’s ceremony, Lord Sawyer presented honorary degrees to five distinguished individuals with a Teesside connection. View the honorary degree press release.