SCOTLAND’s trade union movement may soon have its first ever woman leader, The National understands.

Roz Foyer is being interviewed this week as a possible successor to Grahame Smith, the general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), who announced in November that he is to retire in May this year.

As Unite’s national organising co-ordinator, Foyer is currently one of the trade union movement’s most senior officials in Scotland and has been credited with helping to building up the membership of her union which now has around 150,000 north of the Border.

She is also a member of the STUC’s general council where she has helped to increase the profile of women activists.

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A number of sources told The National that Foyer, who comes from Glasgow, is known for her “steely determination” in a highly male-dominated environment and is regarded as a frontrunner to succeed Smith.

One insider told us: “Roz has got enormous drive and commitment. She is a good speaker and doesn’t take any nonsense.

“The trade union movement particularly in Scotland is still very male. It’s full of older guys who have connections to the communist party and who like to meet in smoke filled rooms.

“For her to have earned her spurs to have become the leading organiser in Unite in Scotland speaks for volumes. To have got there shows she has got a lot of determination and political steel.”

Asked about what stance she may take on a second independence referendum if appointed to the top job, a second insider told The National: “Roz is on the left of the Labour party and in my opinion I think it would be fair to say that she would not want the unions to be left behind on the question of indyref2 and that the time has come for unions to speak out.”

It is understood Foyer is a Labour member and if appointed STUC general secretary her views will be highly influential on the Scottish Labour party which is currently undertaking a review of its policy on a second independence referendum following its disastrous result in the General Election, losing six MPs, leaving just Ian Murray in Edinburgh South.

Smith hits the headlines last week when he called for Labour to back Nicola Sturgeon’s calls for a second independence referendum.

He said the SNP’s landslide victory in the General Election made it clear that voters wanted a referendum. Smith, who will retire after 14 years in the post, said the election result presented Labour with a dilemma but also an opportunity.

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Writing in the magazine Scottish Left Review, he said: “The First Minister has made it clear that she will now push for indyref2. This has left Labour in a quandary: it cannot hold, as it has, that the overall election result gives the Tories a Brexit mandate, and simultaneously maintain the result in Scotland cannot be viewed as a mandate for indyref2.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard announced last month that the party will undertake a swift review into its election rout that will include developing a “clear, constitutional offer” to the nation.

While it is unclear as to what this would be, the development came as senior colleagues openly questioned the party’s opposition to a second independence referendum in light of the SNP landslide.

A spokeswoman for the STUC yesterday declined to comment on Smith’s successor saying it would be inappropriate to do so during the selection process.

Frances O’Grady became the first woman general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in January 2013.