Tuesday 31 December 2019

St Andrews Day Anti-Racism / Anti-Fascism Rally 2019

More from the St Andrews Day rally - here, Doug Haywood from Aberdeen Anarchists...

Hi. I’m an activist with many groups and causes. Today I’m speaking for the Aberdeen Anarchist Group. Check us out online, we’re fun at parties.
When our group were asked, it was suggested that we try to find a female or non-binary speaker. I’m sorry to say the only person available was another old, white male.
Doug Haywood, Aberdeen Anarchists

To go some way to remedying this I’d like to give a shout out to a women. A woman who died 100 years ago. Rosa Luxembourg.

Rosa was a tireless activist, theorist, anti war campaigner and revolutionary socialist. She became one of fascism’s first victims when she was killed in 1919 by Freikorps troops, her body dumped in a Berlin canal.

Rosa lived in a time when another world really DID seem possible, it felt like it was being born after the horror of WW1. She worked tirelessly for that better world, and the Fascists cut her down.

As an Anarchist I’m fond of her most famous quote, that, “Freedom is always the freedom of the dissenter”, (a mild criticism of the limited freedom offered by some socialist traditions), but I also love her assertion that,

“The most revolutionary thing one can do is always to proclaim loudly what is happening.”

There’s a lesson there for us today.

What’s happening is that we live in a time when many politicians are happy to pander to racist, populist rhetoric. To enhance division, fear and hatred as a means to keep power and wealth in the hands of the few.

We can see it in the hostile environment policy, in the Windrush scandal, in the hysteria over a few desperate people in inflatables trying to cross the Med or the Channel. It causes tragedies like we saw last month with the horrific deaths of 31 people in the back of a refrigerated lorry.  

Rosa Luxembourg
We must reject the ugly, insular, selfishness that leads to these tragedies. OPEN THE BORDERS. We must be internationalist, or we are lost to the bigots. To quote Rosa again,

“I feel at home in the entire world, wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears”

The right are weaponising insecurity and fear, the right are breeding hate. We must stand against this. We must stand in solidarity with those the pedallers of hate would seek to marginalise and “other”.

We must stand up in our workplaces, our schools, our streets. In our homes, clubs and when we’re socialising.

We must challenge this fear and hate wherever we find it, however it rears its head.

We cannot accept or be indifferent to fear, hate, racism and the far right. We must “loudly proclaim” that they have no place in this world. Indifference is part of the problem. We must stand up.

Nae Pasaran!

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Festive greetings and best wishes for 2020

Aberdeen Trade Union Council wishes all our delegates, affiliates, associates and friends our best wishes for a wonderful festive season and a happy and peaceful New Year.

We particularly send greetings to those providing essential services over the holiday period.

Thanks to you all for your continued support. In the challenging political climate of 2020, Aberdeen Trade Union Council will continue its fight for workers' rights and human rights at home and across Scotland, the UK and the world.

Monday 23 December 2019

St Andrews Day Anti-Racism / Anti-Fascism Rally 2019

This year's rally included climate change and environmental justice as a core theme, highlighting the fact that ecological hazards and climate disasters disproportionately affect the global south – having the harshest impacts on people of color, indigenous populations and those on low incomes.
Joe Roach, Scottish youth climate striker
Joe Roach, a Scottish Youth Climate Striker addressed the rally, stressing the need for urgent action in response to the climate emergency. We don’t have a copy of his speech, unfortunately, but you can read about  the movement here climatestrike.scot.

ATUC Executive Committee member and UNISON delegate Steve Gray attended the recent STUC Conference on Climate Change and Energy, and provided the following update to the rally…
A few weeks ago I attended the STUC Conference on Climate Change and Energy which included reps from the Just Transition Commission set up by the Scottish Parliament.

The Just Transition Commission has been established for a period of 2 years to investigate how the transition to a Carbon Neutral Scotland can be achieved in a socially, economically and environmentally just way.
Comrades, as trade union reps, activists within our communities and schools we know that transitions can be far from just.

Steve Gray, UNISON
Here in the North East of Scotland we have seen a massive transition to an economy based on fossil fuels .  A transition that was far from just as was demonstrated a few years ago when the oil price dropped and thousands of oil workers were sacked.  Since then pay, terms and conditions of the oil and gas sector works has been cut by the companies.  Health and safety is being compromised.
Despite increases in profits for the companies in recent years the economy of the North East of Scotland has not recovered.

Sadly at the STUC Conference evidence was offered by trade unions that the offshore renewable industry is behaving the same way as the offshore fossil fuels companies.  The ships in the Aberdeen Bay building the offshore wind turbines are administered by the UK Government.  Travel 1.5 miles offshore and the UK Government gives the renewables and the fossil fuel companies a de-regulation.

De-regulation means companies are free to bring in workers from elsewhere with no requirement to apply UK pay rates, or UK terms and conditions.  If you are from Africa and Asia you get $3 an hour!  If you are from Central or Southern Europe 6 Euros an hour!  12 hour shifts a day for a minimum of 6 weeks are the norm.  No shore leave.  Some workers are out there for 4 months. When you get home the agent takes a 25 % cut from your wages as their fee.
Hardly a bright hope for Scotland’s future.
Supporting the importing of skilled but poorly paid workers has allowed the renewables sector to avoid the industry’s training needs.  There are no training courses for offshore renewables construction in Scotland or the rest of the UK to develop the skills of young people and fossil fuels workers seeking to work in the so called “industry of tomorrow”. 
A Just Transition requires this to change.  Training in offshore and onshore renewables jobs is needed now.  The energy sector needs to be regulated offshore to provide Fair Work.

The offshore energy industry needs to support the needs of the onshore communities not the other way round.
The Climate Emergency is hitting the coastal communities now as sea levels rise, storms intensities and frequencies increase and “weather bombs” send torrents of rain water crashing through coastal villages like Gamrie, Pennan and Portsoy.  The 2 year lifetime for the Just Transition Commission is not enough.  The onshore communities like Aberdeen need a Just Transition Government Department to deliver the socially, environmentally and economically just transition for all members of society.  Business as usual is not an option.  We need to demand a Just Transition.


St Andrews Day Anti-Racism / Anti-Fascism Rally 2019

More from the St Andrews Day rally - here, Tommy Campbell from Unite...

It is important that we continue to demonstrate our commitment to fight back against racism and fascism
Tommy Campbell, Unite
especially given that the far right are on the march again.

On 27th January next year sees the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz the Nazi extermination camp by the Soviet Red Army and the eventual defeat of Hitler and Mussolini in May 1945.

However there are those in power who wish to see the Soviet Red Army’s role in the defeat of Fascism re-written and if possible completely written out of the major role they played in WWll.

Its important that Fascism is still challenged when it raises its head and a credit to young people. Trade Unionists and others who are now counter protesting when the far right hold any public meetings.

Resistance to the far right is necessary as you must the follow the footsteps and  uphold the principled stand  by others in the past who have fought Fascism in Spain and during WWll. 

No Pasaran !!!

Tommy concluded by reading the following  poems;

An excerpt from 'For the hearing of the tale, For the future of the wish – Resistance in Nazi Concentration Camps' by the late Hilda Meers…
At the cut edge of a chain of circumstance
In a prison yard, here a man risks death-by-beating
To pick a daisy for his cell mate, who can’t walk.
In the gruesome dark of the camps, sparks flare.
Shared bread, light from hope that glimmers on, undimmed
There’s one who unsuspected sprinkles petrol over the roof
At his comrades’ signal, a new bright flame
Consumes the Nazi crematorium as prisoners rebel.

The dead call us in harsh voices – Listen,
Buried tales tell of what we strove to do,
Men, children, women, to save each other
And peoples of the world… including you.

Strange Fruit by Abel Meeropol (pseudonym: Lewis Allan)

Southern trees bear a strange fruit, 
blood on the leaves and blood at the root, 
black body swinging in the Southern breeze, 
strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South, 
the bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, 
scent of magnolia, sweet and fresh, 
and the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, 
for the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, 
for the sun to rot, for a tree to drop, 
here is a strange and bitter crop.

Granite City Heroes (about the International Brigaders, and others who continue to fight back against Fascism in Aberdeen) by Tommy Campbell

Working-class heroes, so strong; so proud

your  ideals keep us fighting, shouting aloud

whilst we campaign for justice, your hopes  see us through

in this time of peace in Aberdeen, paid for by you.

Your voices still echo, in the old Castlegate

where you challenged the fascists and  spoke out against  Hate

with your thoughts for the future and a better world yet to gain

the same dreams of freedom that took  you to Spain.

Your courage emboldened on an Aberdeen street

you determined your fate and accepted no defeat

humanity, so chiselled, seen sharp on your face

the photos now displayed  in so many a place.

Your flame, burning gentle, we will keep it alight

fighting the good fight, for right, against might

and the love for all others that’s the meaning of you

your example a guidance, a help to bring us through.

Your proud battle flag is there for all to see

it mirrors your conscience and  marks your bravery

shrouded in  blood and shrouded in pain

your memory lives on as you have not died in vain.

For  the campaign’s not over, as onwards we go

we are strong, proud and many, we want all to know

No Pasaran was their call and  it’s with us still

for we’re holding  that line and we always will.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

St Andrews Day Anti-Racism/Anti-Fascism Rally 2019

Over the next few days, we are sharing speeches and messages from the Aberdeen's St Andrews Day rally. Today, Mel Poole from CWU...

My name is Mel Poole and for those that don't know me I am the Political officer for the Grampian and Shetland branch of the CWU. I would like to thank the ATUC for inviting me to speak today and to all the delegates from every union they represent. 

Before I start I would like to extend our branches support and admiration for the UCU in the action they are taking against their employer. We in the CWU stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with our comrades in the UCU. 

This St Andrews day march has the theme of anti-racism and anti-facism at its core. Both very important issues that are still unfortunately prevalent in 2019. It doesn't help when we have a government that's racist to its core from Johnson's 'watermelon smile' comment, Patel's immigration stance, and the rampant institutionalised Islamophobia in the Tory party. Rhetoric like this from people in high office only serves to embolden racists and fascists, from openly marching in our streets, to the torrents of abuse people receive online. 

It needs to stop!!! Wherever racism is encountered it needs to be called out !!! Direct action must be taken!!! The results of direct action was shown recently at the Royal Mail Delivery office in Bootle Liverpool. A manager made an alleged racist comment to one of our CWU members. Immediately the guys in that office went out on unofficial strike for seven days in support of their colleague, only going back when Royal Mail threatened legal action. This is the kind of thing the CWU is famous for. We won't stand for racism, sexism, bullying, harassment or any other form of discrimination. It's knowing what is right from what is wrong. The diversity in our union makes us stronger. Us posties are a community. 

I'm going to speak about our dispute breifly. This sense of community and togetherness was recently shown in our ballot for industrial action where 97% of members voted overwhelmingly to withdraw their labour from Royal Mail. This historic result was achieved by grassroots organising, and utilising all social media platforms inventively. The crux of our dispute is that Royal Mail will not honour a 5 year agreement that is only 2 years old and want to break up our company with the possible loss of over 20,000 jobs. They have already started with Parcelforce worldwide. 

We don't want industrial action, we don't want to lose money, we don't want this fight. But we have had enough, enough of the bullying culture that's much too prevalent in Royal Mail. Enough of the Royal Mail board and managements lack of honour and principle. Enough of corporate greed grasping for every last penny from working class sweat and toil. The rich, the powerful, the elite, think they can get away with everything. Well my union showed them. We stood up, we said enough is enough. We took the establishment on. But the establishment closed ranks and bashed the workers some more, ruling our ballot was illegal, on what I can only call the flimsiest of evidence. So one establishment judge has decided the will of 81,000 CWU members was unlawful. The CWU appealed this decision on Thursday and after 6 hours of legal argument it took 2 minutes - 2 minutes! - to uphold the decision of the previous hearing. Make of this what you will. 

So what now? I will tell you what. We go again, we rise up again. We are not going away, we are not going anywhere. The odds might be stacked against the CWU but we can stand proud. We count!! We all count and following the CWUs lead, together and as a community this is how we should all deal with all forms of racism, fascism or oppression. We all organise, we all Take them on, we all call it
out and we all never stop. The fight will be won and we will win it. Everyone of us . We are all a community. Support your postal workers, support the CWU and support each other! 


Saturday 14 December 2019

St Andrews Day Anti-Racism/Anti-Fascism Rally 2019

On Saturday 30th November, Aberdeen joined with thousands of others across Scotland taking part in the St Andrews Day weekend of anti-racism/ anti-fascism activity.

In Aberdeen trade union, community and political activists rallied at the Castlegate to the rousing tunes of the Grampian District Pipes and Drums
Grampian District Pipes and Drums 
ATUC President Sasha Brydon welcomed those who braved the cold, introducing a range of speakers, united in their messages of solidarity with all those facing discrimination and oppression.

Over the next few days, we will be sharing speeches and messages from the day, starting with Sasha's opening address...

Sasha Brydon, President of Aberdeen Trades Union Council.

We are gathered here today to reaffirm our commitment to fight all forms of racism and fight fascism wherever it rears its ugly head.
Aberdeen has a very proud history of resisting fascism, where we are standing is very significant. Here, in the 1930s, Bob Cooney and others organised to drive the British Union of Fascists out of the city for good. In 1936, a group of men from Aberdeen went to fight to defend democracy in Spain against Franco, who was supported by Hitler and Mussolini.

That may all seem like an awful long time ago, however all over the world we are seeing the rise or consolidation of distinctly right-wing and reactionary forces. In 2014 we saw the toppling – aided by  NATO and the European Union, of Ukrainian democracy to be replaced by a government that rehabilitates Nazi war criminals.
Sasha Brydon, ATUC President

In 2016 the election of Donald Trump in the United States, in 2018 the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, In 2019 we have seen the re-election of Narendra Modi in India, the rise of Boris Johnson, and Benjamin Netanyahu is doing his very best to cling to power in Israel.

Things may seem very bleak, however we have opportunities to fight back. Wherever racists seek to organise, we likewise organise and stop them before they grow. The labour movement will oppose racism wherever it is found, in the workplace, in the streets, or in the halls of parliament.