Saturday 10 November 2018

"Historic" civic reception celebrates Aberdeen Trades Union Council's achievements across 150 years

Kathleen Kennedy cuts the cake as the Depute Provost and guests look on
In a first for the council, Aberdeenshire Depute Provost, Cllr Ron McKail, hosted a Civic Reception  to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Aberdeen Trades Union Council as our birthday year draws to a close.

Members of Aberdeen Trades Union Council, affiliated unions and organisations and councillors from opposition groups on the council attended the lunchtime event in Woodhill House on 9th November 2018.

Depute Provost Cllr McKail
Opening the event, the Depute Provost said, "It is a pleasure to host this reception, as the anniversary year comes to a close. Taking time to honour the work of the Aberdeen Trades Union Council is important.

"This event will be a visible and heartfelt way of thanking members for their hard work in continuing to keep traditions alive, and ensuring that workers’ rights are at the front of our minds.” 

Cllr McKail said that he was personally delighted because he had been a member of two trade unions over his working career - the NUM, of which his father was also a member and NASUWT, of which he remains a retired member.

"I certainly appreciated from an early age the vital importance of having a strong union to support its members," said Cllr McKail.

He paid tribute to the work of the ATUC in the present day and thanked everyone involved for our hard work "in continuing the work of your colleagues, begun so long ago, and keeping the important traditions of trade unionism and workers' rights alive in the North East of Scotland."

ATUC President Kathleen Kennedy
ATUC President, Kathleen Kennedy spoke of the history of the ATUC, which was constituted in 1868 although the foundations were being laid as far back as 1846, in an agreement between different trades to support each other as the textile industry began to collapse.

To laughter Kathleen said, "I'm not the first woman president of the ATUC, but the second, and I'm not the first disabled president of the ATUC (as there was a blind president at the start of the 1900s.) But I am the first local, disabled woman president!"

Cllr Ross Cassie, who was an active member of the ATUC before becoming a councillor, reminded us that the ATUC was initially created to advance and protect the rights of labour and the wellbeing of the working class.

Cllr Ross Cassie
"It has campaigned for dignity, equality and diversity not just in the workplace but also across the wider North East area as a whole."

He reminded us that whilst much has changed since the founding of the ATUC in 1868, much has also remained the same.

"Turning up at the factory gate for a chance of a day's work for a day's pay has been replaced with zero hours contracts. 

"Poverty pay has remained poverty pay," slammed Ross, condemning the exploitation of workers by employers wanting more for less and the continued inequality in the boardroom and elected positions.

"Until we remove exploitation and greed from the workplace and wider society, there will always be a place for Aberdeen Trades Union Council."

Ross also paid tribute to ATUC President, Kathleen Kennedy who is on the cover of this month's national UNISON magazine, making a difference not just locally but nationally too.

Cllr Alison Evison,
ATUC Consultative Member
Giving the vote of thanks, Cllr Alison Evison spoke of her pride at being a consultative member of the ATUC and described today's reception as historic, "because the very fact that we are gathered in an Aberdeenshire Council building is an acknowledgement of the reach of the ATUC across our authority.   

"And that is very important for those working in Aberdeenshire because the values at the heart of the ATUC matter to us here too -solidarity, democratic representation, health and social reform, internationalism, anti-racism, social justice, equality." 

She highlighted the joining of hands in the ATUC badge reflecting the solidarity of people coming together from different trades and industries in common cause, as workers did in Aberdeen in 1868. 

"That solidarity is of ever growing importance as we are inflicted with unwanted, destructive pressures such as welfare reform and Brexit.

"And that solidarity has resulted in members from Aberdeenshire joining with members from Aberdeen in common cause," she added, pointing to the events organised throughout the year by the ATUC in solidarity across the City and the Shire. 

"Aberdeen Trades Union Council has a proud and active history of which we have already heard today. It is right for us to honour that in Aberdeenshire. And so we are grateful for this opportunity today.

"I thank the Provost and Depute Provost for honouring our ATUC with this Civic Reception today. I thank him for the acknowledgement this gives to the strong and long-held values of this important workers’ organisation which serves both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire," said Alison, on behalf of the Aberdeen Trades Union Council.