Saturday 31 March 2018

Detention of Palestinian children breaches their rights under the UNCRC

Recently ATUC Exec member and former President Kate Ramsden spoke at a public event organised jointly by SPSC and ATUC as part of their 150th anniversary commemoration, on the detention of Palestinian children by the state of Israel. Here is the text of that presentation for any who wish to read it.

"As well as a trade union activist I am a social worker to trade and for the past almost 20 years I’ve been a children’s rights officer  – what I like to refer to as “my proper job.”

It’s a job I love. Firmly based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (the UNCRC) my colleague and I work with and for children who are looked after and placed away from home, and other children needing a rights service. We are involved only with the express agreement of the young person and they have control of what we do, unless there is risk to them or others, and even then we would not act without their knowledge. For children who often don’t have a lot of power in their lives, this helps to promote their confidence and their resilience – crucially important for their future life chances. 

Over those 20 years I have seen the acceptance that children have rights widen. Now all legislation relating to children incorporates reference to their rights under the UNCRC. The importance of children having a voice in matters affecting them has become widely accepted and very gradually cultures in this country are changing. Children are empowered to speak and adults see the value of listening.

I feel privileged to have been a part of this change. 

Which is not to say that things are perfect in this country. But there is progress.

And it is because of my background I suppose that I see so clearly when children are not being valued across the world, where their rights are not being respected or are being ridden roughshod over.

Thursday 29 March 2018

Please come along to the next ATUC Delegates meeting on Wednesday 04 April 2018 at 7.30pm

The first ATUC Delegates meeting after our AGM in March will be held on Wednesday 04 April 2018 at 7.30pm within the ATUC premises at 22A Adelphi Aberdeen.

The 150th year events will once again be agenda items along with the Annual Report 2017 for which adverts and articles have all been received.

Other agenda items will be discussing arrangements for IWMD and May Day, both important events for this anniversary year, and the new Exec will bring you up to date on plans for these and other events.

We hope as many Delegates as possible can attend this important meeting.

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Join us to "Remember the dead, fight for the living" at our annual Workers' Memorial Day Service

Please join us in our 150th year at the annual Workers' Memorial Service. It will be held on Saturday 28th April in the Persley Walled Garden, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen. Please gather at 12.30pm for a service at 1pm.

International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) takes place all over the world on 28th April each year.

Its purpose is two-fold. Firstly it is about not forgetting those who have died, been injured, or made ill by their work. Secondly it is about ensuring that this tragic loss and suffering are used to reinvigorate the campaign for healthier and safer work.

ATUC Vice-President Donna Clark said, "In a year where we are still seeing people killed, injured or made ill at their work it is ever more important to come together to 'Remember the dead, fight for the living!'

"We look forward to seeing you all there"

ATUC sends messages of solidarity to striking Unite members as union slams "intransigent" First Bus

ATUC members including Scott Sutherland and John Connon have visited Unite First Bus members on the picket line during their current strike action to pass on solidarity and support from ATUC as Unite members enter their second week of action.

Yesterday Unite blasted management for suspending negotiations which might have ended indefinite strike action at First Aberdeen.

“What are we supposed to do - sign these new contracts on our knees?” asked Unite branch convenor, Mike Flynn.

Last week drivers at First Bus in Aberdeen decided to go on an indefinite strike in protest against new contracts. Among other things the First Bus proposals include an increase in drivers’ working hours for reduced wages, reduced sick pay, reduced annual leave and holiday pay, and an end to paid breaks for drivers on duty.

Despite the draconian nature of these plans Unite Scotland has been prepared to negotiate on terms. But the mood among the drivers is hardening with the bus bosses’ intransigence.

Unite First Bus Branch convenor, Mike Flinn, said “It’s no wonder that the drivers are ready to go on indefinite strike. And it’s no wonder the mood is getting more hard line. These proposals mean that many drivers will be losing more than £5000 a year on their earnings. First Bus Managing Director likes to talk about give and take. Well it’s Unite members that are doing the giving and First Bus doing the taking.”

A meeting of members is due to take place tomorrow.

Human ‘statue’ of Kurdish symbol of resistance unveiled in Dundee

ATUC Secretary, Fiona Napier joined activists in Dundee on Saturday 24 March as they demonstrated solidarity with the Kurdish people in Northern Syria by unveiling a human ‘statue’ of Kawa the Blacksmith, a symbol of resistance.

Fiona was featured in the Evening Telegraph as she took a message of solidarity to campaigners from Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan (SSK) and Dundee Trades Union Council as they came together to oppose ongoing Turkish aggression in the region.

Following Turkey’s invasion of Afrin – one of three cantons which make up the Rojava region - in January, Afrin city fell to the invaders last week.

In a symbolic demonstration of the seizure of power, the soldiers pulled down the statue of Kawa the Blacksmith, a mythic Kurdish figure who represents the triumph of ordinary people over tyrannical rule.

In defiance of this move, Scottish campaigners produced their own statue of Kawa, in the form of a person covered in silver paint, holding his famed Blacksmith’s hammer in one hand, a Kurdish YPG (People’s Defence Units) flag in the other.

Read more here.

Saturday 17 March 2018

Please come along to a public talk this Thursday 22nd March on child prisoners as part of our 150th Anniversary events

Please join us for a public talk on Thursday 22nd March at 7pm on Palestinian child prisoners to be held in the Unite the Union office, 42-44 King Street, Aberdeen AB24 5TJ.

This event is co-hosted by Aberdeen Trades Union Council and Scottish Palestine Solidarity Aberdeen and is part of a year of activities to mark the 150th anniversary of ATUC in 2018.

Kate Ramsden, UNISON NEC member and a member of the ATUC Executive has dedicated her career to defending children’s rights, and will be introducing a discussion on what we can do from Scotland to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children.  

Aberdeen Trades Union Council (ATUC) has submitted a motion to this year's STUC Congress condemning the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli courts and prisons and calling for action to end the detention and mis-treatment of Palestinian minors by Israel.

The text includes the phrase below.

‘The arrest of 16 year old Ahed Tamimi has shone a spotlight on Israel’s systematic abuse of minors through the process of military detention. The treatment of Ahed rightly generated a global response, but her situation is far from unique. Each year, the Israeli military arrests and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children. Palestinian children encounter ill-treatment and a denial of their basic rights. This is in clear breach of their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a signatory.’

Please join us for this important event.

Thursday 15 March 2018

Solidarity to Unite members in First Bus taking action against cuts in pay and conditions

Aberdeen Trades Union Council sends support and solidarity to Unite members in First Aberdeen who will begin an overtime ban from Friday 16th March followed by a series of one day strikes, culminating in a week-long strike from 26th March.
ATUC is calling on all affiliates and supporters not to use First Aberdeen buses on strike days, in solidarity with striking workers.

The dispute is a result of imposed changes to terms and condition in pay, overtime rates, sick pay, removal of paid breaks and longer working days with split shifts.

The imposed changes will lead to cuts in pay for workers ranging from 10% to 23% depending on the level of overtime worked.

The vote for action was overwhelming. Unite members voted 95% in favour of action and action short of strike in an 81% turnout.

Unite regional officer, Willie Wallace said: “First Bus is arguing that they need  these changes to stem the decline in their financial performance, but when Unite put alternative suggestions for making the savings to the company, these were rejected.

"Our members have shown by the high vote for industrial action, how angry they are with First Bus around the imposition of these cuts and have been forced, reluctantly, to withdraw their labour.

“We have a situation where a two-tier workforce has meant new starts are employed on lesser terms and conditions than those on older contracts. This needs to stop and our members have made this clear with this result.

“First Aberdeen should reconsider Unite’s proposals which would halt this action.”

ATUC sends another message of solidarity and support to UCU Aberdeen

Aberdeen Trades Union Council has sent a further message of solidarity to our colleagues in our affiliated union, the UCU who tomorrow will conclude 14 days of strike action to defend their pensions.

President Kathleen Kennedy, elected at the AGM on 14th March sent an email of support to Aberdeen UCU. Delegates at the AGM also pledged a donation of £100 to the UCU Aberdeen hardship fund.

The UCU Aberdeen website reports that more than 50% of Aberdeen UCU members responded to an informal consultation regarding the output of the ACAS talks between UCU and Universities UK.

Dr David Watts represented Aberdeen at the UCU HQ meeting which took place in London on Tuesday.

The branch had to react quickly and made every effort, given the deadline, to engage all members in forming a collective response. The position of the branch is that Aberdeen UCU rejects the proposal brokered via the Acas-mediated talks.

It should be noted this position is in keeping with that made public by many other branches.

Monday 12 March 2018

Come along to the Aberdeen Trades Union Council AGM on Wed 14th March

Delegates and associates are urged to come along to the ATUC AGM on Wednesday 14th March at  22a Adelphi, Aberdeen at 7.30pm.

This is a very important meeting where new officers are elected for the coming year, the accounts for 2017 are approved and plans made for the forthcoming events in our 150th anniversary year.

We have important events coming up including International Workers' Memorial Day and our May Day March and Rally as well as the STUC Congress in April.

We really hope that as many delegates as possible will attend and look forward to seeing you then.

Saturday 10 March 2018

ATUC - we must organise to win for our members

Joint-President Tyrinne Rutherford used his speech at the Aberdeen City Civic Reception launching the 150th anniversary celebrations of the ATUC, to highlight the challenges facing trade unions now and to call on us to organise to win for our members.
Tyrinne Rutherford

“BROTHERS SISTERS COMRADES; If you look at the history of employers’ treatment of worker through history their goal hasn’t changed, but their tactics have.

They still want to pay us peanuts to maximise profit and they’ll do that to any that they see fits.

For instance zero hour contracts, and the fact they want contracts to be a bit of paper that say you'll work when we want you to work, go home when we want you to go home and this is your pay.

Remember what you were taught about the Victorian era of men turning up to the factory each morning with no guarantee of work or pay. That’s what the gig economy is like. Ask those workers at Deliveroo racing each other to get people’s order of food.

A Brief History of the ATUC

Vice President, Kathleen Kennedy
Kathleen Kennedy Vice President gave a very brief account of the history of Aberdeen Trades Union Council at the Aberdeen City Council's Civic Reception

ATUC began obviously in 1868 given we are celebrating our 150th year this year and the launch of our anniversary celebrations being this Aberdeen City Council's civic reception  
When preparing for this talk Kathleen discovered the foundations were being laid before that - in fact in 1846 as there was an 'agreement' between different trades to support each other as the textile industry collapsed and the service sector began inhibited the development of trade unionism - well nothing changed there? But they haven't yet and they won't!

In 1868 during a 10 weeks Stone Mason's strike in the Granite City saw the coming together of 13 societies of masons and branches under  the leadership of John Jessiman  chairmanship to form the Trades Council - which we know as ATUC.
Morag Lawrence's (Assistant secretary) Great Gran was affected by this strike, in fact she was going to a wedding and couldn't afford new clothes for the wedding! So she and others went into a shop here in Aberdeen. Tried on new clothes and then putting on their own clothes on top and left without paying! They did get caught and Morag's Great Gran was imprisoned - this shows the impact of the strike and the hardship it meant for people - it's good to see Morag as part of the ATUC today and illustrates just how much her family has been in trade unionism over the years.

Aberdeen Trades Union Council launches its 150th Anniversary year in style

Kevin Hutchens, Kathleen Kennedy, Satnam Ner,
Barney Crockett, Tyrinne Rutherford and
Grahame Smith
Aberdeen Trades Union Council's 150th Anniversary celebrations got off to a high profile start this week with three excellent events formally launching our anniversary year and recognising the work of the ATUC locally.

Our thanks go to the STUC and Aberdeen City Council for hosting receptions to mark this important year.

STUC reception and launch of research proposal
The events began with a reception on Wednesday afternoon, 7th March hosted by the STUC in the Town House, Aberdeen to mark our150th anniversary. We were delighted that the General Council held their meeting in Aberdeen before this event.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

STUC brings support and solidarity to UCU members striking to defend their pensions

The STUC brought messages of support to striking UCU members in Aberdeen today as their Deputy General Secretary visited picket lines around the city.

The STUC General Council held a special meeting in Aberdeen to mark the 150th anniversary celebrations for the Aberdeen Trades Union Council.

Deputy General Secretary, Dave Moxham, took the opportunity to visit the UCU Aberdeen picket lines this morning, bringing solidarity messages from all the General Council members and the hundreds of thousands of workers across Scotland that they collectively represent.

Aberdeen Trades Union Council would like to add our own message of solidarity and support to our colleagues in the UCU in their ongoing fight to defend their pensions and to pay tribute to their members for their solid backing for the 14 days of strike action.

STUC General Council to join Aberdeen TUC in 150th Anniversary celebration and launch new research project into the Aberdeen Economy

Grahame Smith
On Wednesday 7th March, the STUC General Council will convene in Aberdeen City Chambers for a special meeting to mark the 150th Anniversary of Aberdeen TUC.

At a special meeting with Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire trade unionists at 1.30pm in the City Chambers, STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith will launch a new research project into the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire economy.

 Grahame Smith said,

 “Trade unions continue to play a vital role in Aberdeen and the Aberdeen TUC has a proud history of standing up for workers in the area.  It is an enormous pleasure to come to Aberdeen along with trade union leaders from across Scotland to mark the historic anniversary.

“Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire economy is of vital importance to the Scottish economy. Yet in recent years it has seen significant changes. The fall in oil and gas prices has led to a loss of offshore jobs and a change in the composition of the workforce. Significant investment in capital infrastructure projects has led to a boost in the construction workforce, although with large-scale infrastructure projects coming to an end this is likely to change further.  

"This research will look at the changing nature of the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire economy, particularly within the energy, construction and public service sectors.”

Thursday 1 March 2018

STUC and Aberdeen City Council helps ATUC launch its 150th Anniversary Celebrations

Aberdeen Trades Union Council will formally launch its 150th Anniversary Celebrations by welcoming the STUC General Council to Aberdeen Town House for its meeting on 7th March.

Following the meeting the STUC General Council will meet with ATUC officers and delegates in the Town and County Hall in the Town House, Aberdeen and will present the research that the STUC is proposing to undertake on the North East economy.

Kathleen Kennedy, Vice President said, "We are delighted that the STUC General Council has travelled to Aberdeen for their General Council Meeting and to host this afternoon reception to kick start our 150th anniversary celebrations.

"We are particularly pleased that they have chosen this event to present their proposals for their special research project on the economy of the North East of Scotland.

"We hope that as many ATUC delegates as possible will get along to this event."

Dave Moxham, Depute General Secretary of the STUC said, "We are delighted to host this reception which will include members of the STUC General Council and trade unionists from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. 

"The event will mark the anniversary of the ATUC but will also provide an opportunity for discussion on the challenges facing the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire economies and the quality of work."

Civic Reception
This will be followed in the evening by a Civic Reception organised by Aberdeen City Council and hosted by the Lord Provost. 

Kevin Hutchens, President said, "This event is a celebration of 150 years of Trade Union activity in the City of Aberdeen and in Aberdeenshire.

"The Trade Union Movement is proud of its history of fighting for the rights of workers in the City and Shire."

Attendance at this event is by invitation.