Monday 27 April 2020

Aberdeen Trades Union Council Executive Committee Statement on International Workers’ Memorial Day 28th April 2020

Aberdeen Trades Union Council (ATUC) extends its solidarity to working people past and present this International Workers’ Memorial Day, as we remember the dead and fight for the living. We send our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who have lost their lives at work, or to Covid-19 during these difficult times.

The focus for Workers’ Memorial Day this year is on a collective day of remembrance and solidarity for all workers who have lost their lives as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic affects every worker regardless of sector or locality. Tens of thousands of workers worldwide have died. More have fallen ill or continue to go to work risking their lives. Many workers are still attending work ill-equipped and without necessary safety measures in place.

ATUC is supporting the call made by the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives and UNISON - who collectively represent more than a million NHS and public service staff - to undertake a minute’s silence at 11am as a public display of commemoration and solidarity.

During the crisis created by Covid-19, International Workers’ Memorial Day has never been more important. Key workers, who until recently the government and establishment were calling ‘unskilled’ have been keeping the country running, as they always have.

Aberdeen Trades Union Council would like to extend its gratitude to all workers during this crisis; to all of our health and social care workers in NHS Grampian, the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils, the Community and Voluntary sector, community General Practices and Pharmacies; and also all other workers (paid and voluntary) who are helping to keep society functioning during the crisis - our transport workers, teachers, emergency services, shop workers, postal workers, delivery drivers, NGOs and community volunteers, and others too numerous to mention.

Sasha Brydon, Aberdeen Trades Union Council President said, “We have been concerned at the failure of both the UK and the Scottish governments over their handling of the crisis and their failure to provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment and testing.

“We have also long condemned the underfunding of councils and the National Health Service, which has added to the challenges in dealing with this pandemic in the North East of Scotland.”

Many of ATUC’s affiliated unions represent our key workers, and we include some words from them below:

Mel Poole, Communication Workers Union: “This year's International Workers’ Memorial Day marks a very poignant time for the working class around the world. Many workers have lost their lives due to this pandemic.

“We in the CWU Grampian and Shetland branch would like to pay tribute to all key workers and their families who continue, despite the dangers to serve our communities.

“We would like to pass on our condolences to all those families who have lost loved ones since last year's memorial day. We would especially like to remember the ten members of our CWU family who have passed on, and their passing will forever leave a gaping hole in our union, a hole which will never be replaced.”

John Singer, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers: “Recently 'low' skilled workers have become 'key' workers recognised as vital to the provision of food and other essentials. Collectively we can get through this crisis.

“Afterwards we should have an improved sense of solidarity.  Regardless of whether someone's job status is considered prestigious or lowly, we are all people.”

Keith Grant, UNISON: “UNISON Grampian Health Branch are proud to support International Workers’ Memorial Day, and the ATUC. As an integral part of healthcare within Grampian, and a continuous participant in this poignant memorial day, now more than ever, we as a branch want all unions to commemorate this day.”

Graham Gavin, Unite the Union: “Here at First Aberdeen our members were concerned with the "speak holes" in the bandit screens and the close proximity of passengers if the buses were busy.

“As a union we lobbied the employer to cover up the holes with clear plastic and asked them to cordon off the two seats behind/adjacent to the driver to allow for social distancing . There was no real clear guidance from division on how many passengers were allowed on a vehicle at any one time.

“Locally however we have said to our members to monitor closely how busy their bus is and if they feel that they have too many folk on to allow the recommended two meters, to contact the control room for guidance.

“There has been hand sanitizer handed out to every driver and plentiful supply to top up as required also disposable gloves have been handed out as well. Apart from that everyone is observing social distancing within our canteen areas and also where changeovers are involved drivers are standing back to allow their relief to come off.”

Simon Leroux, Fire Brigades Union: “On International Workers Memorial Day we are calling on all FBU members to remember these workers in the traditional way of firefighters, by standing for a minute’s silence on the forecourt of fire stations and other Fire & Rescue Service workplaces.

“By doing so we will show our solidarity and respect for all workers affected by the pandemic, bus drivers, health workers, social care workers and the many others who have shown themselves to be at the forefront of protecting and delivering for our communities and society during this time of crisis.

“We also know that firefighters have died from the virus in various countries, particularly in Italy and the USA.”

“We are also supporting the call made by the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives and UNISON - who collectively represent more than a million NHS and public service staff - to undertake the minutes silence at 11am as a public display of commemoration and solidarity.”

Aberdeen Trades Union Council Executive Committee