Sunday 25 October 2020

Build solidarity for Richie Venton, sacked steward

Aberdeen Trades Union Council has already highlighted this appalling situation where shop steward, Richie Venton has been sacked by Ikea for legitimate trade union activities.

We have sent solidarity and support to Richie. Now, if you can, we are asking all delegates, associates, families and friends to join this online public meeting on Monday 26th October at 7pm to build solidarity across the trade union movement.

Please register for this event and take part if you can.

Please sign the petition calling on the Tory government to extend free school meals so children don't go hungry

Aberdeen Trades union Council is outraged that the UK Tory government has voted down a Labour proposal to extend free school meals to the school holidays.

We are urging all our delegates, associates, friends and families to sign this petition calling for an extension of free school meals into the school holidays.

The situation in Scotland is different but we want to raise our voice for children across the UK. It is a disgrace that children are starving in the sixth richest country in the world. The money is there - it is just the political will that is missing.

As the petiton states, children have a basic human right to have access to food. Denying them free school meals denies them this right. 

There are too many children going hungry. The Government's vote condemns children on free school meals to starve over the holidays. 

In the middle of a global pandemic where many families are on an even more reduced income, where many have lost their livelihoods, parents are working flat out to do everything in their power to feed their children and they are still not managing it. 

To make a child suffer for the shortcomings of our society is completely wrong. Taking away free school meals in the holidays, when these children need it the most is abhorrent.

Friday 23 October 2020

ATUC support and solidarity to Bifab workers as Scottish government ends hopes for the communities in Fife and Lewis

Aberdeen Trade Union Council has described as "heart breaking"  to all those workers, their families and their trade union movement supporters, the collapse of a deal between Bifab and EDF for the manufacture of wind turbine jackets to support the Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind project.

 As part of the campaign to save Bifab last year, the STUC organised the November 2019 Energy Conference which offered wide spread trade union and environmental organisations' support for a just transition and support for the Bifab community.

Follow up reports have been produced but the failure to support the Bifab workers shows the lack of political will across the UK and Scottish Governments to support a just transition for working people.


ATUC sends our support and solidarity to Unite and GMB members affected by this apparent failure on the part of the Scottsh Government and to the communities that will be affected.

Responding on Wednesday 21st October to the breaking news over the collapse of a deal between BiFab and EDF for the manufacture of eight turbine jackets to support the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind project, Unite Scotland Secretary Pat Rafferty and GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said:

“It looks like the Scottish government ministers have walked away from our best chance of building a meaningful offshore wind manufacturing sector, and in doing so have extinguished the hopes of communities in Fife and Lewis who were banking their future prosperity on it. 

“It’s a scandalous end to a decade which started with promises of a “Saudi Arabia of Renewables” supporting 28,000 full-time jobs in offshore wind and now finishes in mothballed fabrication yards and no prospect of any contracts or jobs on the horizon. 

Thursday 15 October 2020

Solidarity with Richie Venton sacked by Ikea for defending workers' rights - please sign the petition

ATUC sends our support and solidarity to Richie Venton, USDAW steward, sacked by IKEA for standing up for workers’ health and livelihoods in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and for carrying out the duties that any decent elected trade union representative would. 

Please sign the petiton to reinstate Richie Venton and to demand wages for sick workers at Ikea.

Since February, Richie consistently argued that anyone off sick or self-isolating from the worst killer pandemic in a century should receive their full 100% average wage - not to be put on company sick benefit; not to be penalised with sick absence points; not to be excluded entirely from IKEA sick benefit for exceeding the points threshold, but to get their full average wages.

Richie argued this was essential to prevent workers facing an impossible choice of financial ruin on £95 a week Statutory Sick Pay or ruination of their health and that of others by dragging themselves into work, potentially infecting a workforce of 540 people.

When IKEA – who made £11.2bn profits in 2019 - announced that from 1st June wages would be removed from workers absent due to COVID-19, Richie repeated this case and then informed union members who had elected me as their shop steward and convenor, of company plans and his opposition to these as their union representative.

For that Richie was sacked, on a trumped-up charge of “breach of confidentiality”.

This is Union victimisation, to clear the path to even worse attacks on the rights and conditions of IKEA staff. It’s no accident that Richie had built union membership to the highest level in any IKEA store in UK and Ireland; to more than twice the density of the second best-organised store. 

Saturday 10 October 2020


When 12yr old Zak Hijazi heard that Aberdeen Trades Union Council was taking part in Challenge Poverty Week, he set about designing a graphic to support it. What he produced - as you can see below -was a powerful image and message! His reason for doing it - in his own words, ”Poverty is a crime caused by our governments”. 

Throughout this week, ATUC has been posting information that demonstrates just how right Zak is in his assessment.

On Nov 16, 2018, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Prof Philip Alston commented in his investigation of poverty in the UK, “Poverty is a political choice. Austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so.” 

A damning statement to be made about the (at that time) world’s fifth largest economy. Rather than move swiftly to rectify the situation, the government dismissed the report as “barely believable” and ignored the findings.

Two years on, the Covid pandemic has tragically shown the result of that callous response, as the results of years of chronic underfunding of vital public sectors have been laid bare. This is what happens when looking after people - especially the vulnerable - is seen as less important than big business and shareholder dividends.

As we plan our economic recovery, we must redesign our economy to reflect the values of justice and compassion we all share.

Poverty is indeed a political choice; it's up to us to change the narrative, and make sure the right choices get made!

Friday 9 October 2020

Just transition report - offshore oil and gas workers' views


Click on image to see report
Aberdeen Trades Union Council is a long term supporter of a just transition away from fossil fuels and arms production towards renewables. We therefore welcome the Friends of the Earth Report  released this week, Offshore: oil and gas workers views on industry conditions and the energy transition, which is particularly relevant to the North East of Scotland.

The report builds on a survey of 1,383 offshore workers, revealing the impact of Covid-19 on their lives, their views on life in the industry generally and their hopes and solutions for the energy transition. In addition to the survey results shared, there are eight case studies in the report from the workers themselves, revealing an exhaustion with precarious employment in oil and gas and a huge appetite for alternative industries, including offshore wind and other renewables.

The report concludes with several recommendations, including the need for governments to engage in participatory policy-making with a representative section of the oil and gas workforce and their trade unions. We request that the government bodies and individuals listed in the report begin this process by meeting with a pool of survey respondents who have expressed interest in speaking with them.

Ryan Morrison, Just Transition Campaigner from Friends of the Earth Scotland. said, “I hope you think its a useful piece of work in the Just Transition struggle. We want to continue worki,g with workers, TUs and communities in crafting solutions for a just transition.”

Thursday 8 October 2020

ATUC delegates support #ChallengePovertyWeek

Aberdeen Trades Union Council, at its delegate meeting on 7th October, reaffirmed our commitment to Challenge Poverty Week. Delegates brought along posters and placards for this photo opportunity to say #TogetherWeCan end poverty.

Challenge Poverty Week runs from 5-11 October. It aims to highlight the growing problem of poverty in Scotland and showcase the solutions we can all get behind to solve it.  

With that in mind, ATUC has been sharing articles about how poverty manifests itself in our communities across Scotland and what we need to do to tackle it.

See more on our Facebook page. 

We are particularly concerned about the growing numbers of children growing up in poverty - one in six children in the North East of Scotland. 65% of those children are in a household with one or both parents in work. 

Growing up in poverty has a significant effect on our children, affecting their development, their confidence, their access to opportunities and their health.

Delegates also supported an emergency motion proposed by Gerry McCabe calling for an
Emergency Programme for Jobs, Services and Safety (see motion below)

Wednesday 7 October 2020

ATUC sends solidarity and support to RMT striking for safe working conditions on SERCO Caledonian Sleeper


Aberdeen Trades Union Council sends solidarity to RMT union, which held the first of two 48 hour strikes on 4th October, in their members' fight for safe working conditions.

The strike on the SERCO Caledonian Sleeper was rock solid, with pickets out in force at key locations as RMT members fight for safe working conditions‎.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said;

“RMT members are standing rock solid in their strike action on the Caledonian Sleeper this evening but it remains a scandal that SERCO appear to have deliberately provoked this dispute and have never had any intention of entering serious talks. Instead of working with the union on a solution to the very real issues of safety and fatigue they have declared war on their staff. That is a disgrace.

“It is also wholly unacceptable that the political leadership in Scotland, distracted by the scandal of one of their own travelling on trains while COVID positive, have not lifted a finger to help us settle this dispute. They should get off their backsides and haul SERCO into line. Their lack of action is grossly irresponsible.

“Our members on the Caledonian Sleeper, demanding nothing more than a safe working environment, deserve better than this shocking treatment. We are grateful for the huge level of support that has flooded in and its now down to the company to get serious and negotiate a settlement.”

Monday 5 October 2020

Join the ATUC and raise your voice against poverty in the world’s sixth richest country

#ChallengePoverty This is Challenge Poverty Week. Aberdeen Trades Union Council is raising our voice against poverty in the sixth richest country in the world. The money is there – it’s just in the wrong hands.

The key messages of Challenge Poverty Week are:

 ·       Too many people in Scotland are living with the constant pressure of living in poverty.

·       As we plan our economic recovery, we must redesign our economy to reflect the values of justice and compassion we all share.

·       By boosting people’s incomes and reducing the cost of living we can solve poverty.

They have also highlighted the importance of affordable and accessible public services – especially council services - critically important to the poorest in our society to ensure opportunities for families and children.

We all want to do right by each other. And yet, we live in a society where one in five people live with the constant pressure of living in poverty. And in the North East of Scotland almost one in six of our children live below the poverty line. Across Scotland it is one in four of our children and 65% of these children live in a household where one or both parents are in work.

Even before the pandemic, poverty was already too high and rising. However, these last few months have created a storm, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. It has caused exceptional damage to people’s livelihoods, income and wellbeing - and is pulling even more families under.

Please read on to find out what you can do....

Friday 2 October 2020

Sign the petition to ban all unpaid work trial periods

Aberdeen Trades Union Council is calling on delegates, associaltes and their families and friends to sign this petition calling for a ban on unpaid work trial periods.

Unpaid trial shifts are open to exploitation as they can be used by unscrupulous employers to take advantage of vulnerable people looking for a job. Often unpaid trials are for minimum wage jobs and the people applying for them cannot afford to work for free but may have no other option. 

Potential employees might feel as though they can't say no to these exploitative trials without risking their future livelihood. It is unfair to force someone to work for hours without pay for a job they might not even be given. Moreover, there is the cost of travelling to and from the trial shift as well as having to buy a uniform such as a shirt, trousers, plain t-shirt etc. These are things that unemployed people cannot afford to be wasting money on and shouldn't have to for a job that is unpaid. 

Please sign this petition

Thursday 1 October 2020

ATUC joins hundreds to raise its voice against poverty in the sixth richest country in the world

#ChallengePoverty Aberdeen Trades Union Council (ATUC) is supporting Challenge Poverty Week, from 5-11 October, which aims to highlight the growing problem of poverty in Scotland and showcase the solutions we can all get behind to solve it.  

Poverty, especially child poverty, has long been a concern to the ATUC and we have raised this issue at the Scottish Trades Union Congress, winning support for strategies to end child poverty. We remain appalled and the growing numbers of food banks in Scotland and across the UK and that food banks so essential to prevent so many of our citizens from facing hunger in the sixth richest country in the world.

Child poverty in Aberdeen sits at 18% and Aberdeenshire sits at 14% - that is almost one in six of our children in the North East of Scotland who live below the poverty line. Across Scotland it is one in four of our children and 65% of these children live in a household where one or both parents are in work.

That is why the ATUC is supporting Challenge Poverty Week; that is why poverty is a trade union issue. We encourage all our affiliated unions, associated organisations and their members to do the same.

During the week we are joining hundreds of organisations from across Scotland in taking part in Challenge Poverty Week, with faith groups, local authorities, businesses, trade unions and charities all raising our collective voice against poverty. We all want to live in a just and compassionate Scotland, but to achieve this action must be taken to loosen the grip of poverty on people’s lives.

ATUC will be writing to our MPs and MSPs calling on them to act to end poverty in the North East, across Scotland and across the UK.

You can go on the Poverty Alliance website and get the letter templates to add your voice to this call.