Sunday 15 May 2022

Workers march for peace and prosperity at excellent May Day event


The ATUC March and rally in Aberdeen on 7th May, celebrating international workers’ day or May Day was our first in person event since the start of the Covid pandemic.

Led by the rousing tunes of a pipe band, the marchers from trade unions, political parties and activists' groups made a colourful display with our flags, placards and banners, to the enjoyment of passers-by many of whom stopped to watch.
The Guarana Drummers with their exciting rhythms brought up the rear.
Chairing the rally at the Castlegate, ATUC President, Graeme Farquhar told those gathered that May Day is normally a day of celebration for all workers, but this year with the cost of living crisis we do not have much to celebrate.

Graeme Farquhar

This conservative government have inflicted poverty upon four million children and through criminal neglect. During Covid they have caused the deaths of over 20 000 older people by sending them back to care homes without a test.

"This is a party who have normalised poverty while enriching themselves at the expense of the working man, woman and their families," slammed Graeme.
"In just 12 years they have taken us back decades. They awarded themselves a £2000 pay rise and if it is good enough for them then it, is  good enough for every worker in the UK.

"But maybe instead of giving them the 2000 maybe we should stand at our doors on a Thursday night at 8 and clap for them," said Graeme to much applause.

He demanded a windfall tax on the energy companies, making £9000 profit a minute, or almost £1 million 960 a day.
" Enough is enough," warned Graeme. "It is time for us the workers to fight back."
Maggie Chapman

Graeme was followed by Green MSP and consultative member, Maggie Chapman, who promised to be the voice of workers in the Scottish parliament.

Maggie said, "History shows us that the government cannot beat the power of workers, but we need to maximise that power.

"We are faced with the massive need to transition our energy economy and Aberdeen must be at the forefront of that. We need a transition that puts workers and communities at its heart."

ATUC delegate, Kate Ramsden then spoke on behalf of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign highlighting the importance of international solidarity. Pointing out that the theme of International Workers’ Day this year is peace and prosperity for all, she said that this is all that the people of Palestine want.

Kate Ramsden

"However, since the Nakba – the catastrophe in 1948 – when many were driven from their homes and their lands, to become refugees in their own country or across the world, the Palestinian people have had neither peace nor prosperity," said Kate.

"Oppression and occupation at the hands of the Israeli government has blighted the lives of generations of Palestinians.

Poverty is rampant across Palestine, and in the Gaza Strip after years of an Israeli blockade and bombardments, it has risen to 59 percent."

She slammed the UK arms trade with Israel and the failure of the international community to condemn Israel for war crimes as they have Putin for his atrocities in the Ukraine and called for support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

"Just as this government has implemented sanctions against Russia to put pressure on them to end their invasion of Ukraine and sue for peace, so we should be demanding they do the same to Israel to protect and support the Palestinians and end the oppression, occupation and apartheid that they suffer."

Tommy Campbell
Tommy Campbell, ATUC delegate and Unite retired member, then read two moving and well-received poems.

Linda Carmichael, Aberdeen and Shires Local WASPI Group, spoke on behalf of the thousands of WASPI women, born in the 1950s, whose pension entitlement was removed without warning. She spoke of the impact that this has had on many women, plunging them into poverty with some losing their homes and having to move back with parents late in life.

The WASPI campaign is still pursuing justice through the courts and is awaiting a judgement. Linda thanked ATUC for inviting her to lay a wreath and International Workers' Memorial Day to remember all those affected who have already dies and will never see justice done.

Linda Carmichael

"We want women compensated for how this decision was made, without warning and without any transitional arrangements. We will keep fighting until we get it."

UNISON's Kathleen Kennedy addressed the rally to speak about the Year of Disabled Workers, highlighting that one in five working people admit to being disabled. "So it's likely to be many more than that, especially after Covid," she said, pointing out that long term health conditions are also considered a disability under the Equalities Act.

She spoke about ATUC's motion to STUC Congress which will lobby for a return to the 1944 Act which required employers to meet a quota for disabled workers on 3 in 20 or 15%.

Kathleen Kennedy

"If you are in a trade union, ask them what they are doing to celebrate Year of Disabled Workers and to ask the employer how they are marking this year," reminding us that this is not just a role for disabled workers but for everyone.

There were two excellent musical interludes from the band, Melting Pot. The event concluded with a poem penned by Graeme Farquhar on the impact of Covid.

Melting Pot