Monday 28 November 2022

St Andrews Day Rally - the fight against racism, fascism and discrimination and for a fairer world goes on


Trade unionists, politicians and citizens came together at this year's St Andrew's Day Rally organised by Aberdeen Trades Union Council.

Held indoors in deference to the weather, those attending made the short march up the Castlegate to the Citadel to the upbeat rhythms of the Guaran Drummers, who didn't let a little North East wind and rain dampen their spirits.

ATUC President Graeme Farquhar chaired the proceedings and introduced a wide range of speakers, all highlighting the challenges ahead and recommitting to the fight against racism, fascism and discrimination in Scotland, the UK and world-wide.

Solidarity was sent to our comrades in struggle, striking for a living wage in the face of a cost-of-living crisis and climate activists recognised that the battle for just transition is part and parcel of the battle for fairness, equality and justice for all.

Click here to read Graeme's speech in full

The speakers are as follows and will be linked to their speeches if we are sent them. Music was provided by musician Iona Macdonald, who performed three beautiful and relevant songs.

Deena Tissera
Deena Tissera Aberdeen City Councillor spoke of the racism that still blights the life of many from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds in Scotland. She called on those who witness this not to be silent but to call it out.

Ishbel Shand of Friends of ST. Fitticks Park asked for ask for help in defending our fellow citizens from a gross injustice.  

She warned, "An unelected cabal made up of the Harbour Board, unelected officers at City Council, Scottish Enterprise and Sir Ian Wood’s ONE/ETZ company are planning to steal the last green space accessible to the poorest people in the North East. This collusion of private interests and the political system is crony capitalism at its most sordid."

Kathleen Kennedy
Kathleen Kennedy Aberdeenshire UNISON and ATUC Vice Chair spoke of the impact of the cost-of -iving crisis on disabled people because of how much extra it costs to live when you are disabled. 

Kathleen said, "Scope a leading disability charity reported at in 2019:that it costed the average disabled person £583 a month more than a non disabled person. Why? Well, food need to be easily made, mobility, and I need to buy shoes two or three times a year and my shoes cost £150-200 a pair."

Kathleen added, "In this Year of Disabled Workers and Disabled History Month we should remember that disabled people are always present - 22% are open in declaring they are disabled but the figure is likely to be much higher with many fearful to declare disabilities for fear of workplace discrimination."

Kate Ramsden Co Chair Aberdeenshire UNISON and ATUC Delegate spoke of the importance of being constantly vigilant and the fight against racism, fascism and other forms of discrimination, "especially coming out of COVID and with a cost of living crisis – which is really a cost of greed crisis - when it is all too easy to demonise and blame certain groups – like migrant workers, benefits claimants, disabled people, older people and single parents."

She told the rally that UNISON has designated 2023 as the Year of Black Workers and asked for support to highlight and oppose the overt and covert racism that exists across society.

Click here to read Kate's speech in full.

Sintra spoke from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, reminded that the fight against racism and fascism includes our support for citizens across the world, suffering oppression and poverty, much of it caused by Western powers.

"The North East has a proud history of international solidarity which continues to this day.

"On Tuesday, the International Day of Solidarity with the People of Palestine, Aberdeen City Council will fly the Palestinian flag. We thank them for this."

She told the rally that the oppression of the Palestinians by Israel is long running and vicious. 

"This year alone 199 Palestinians have been killed at the hands of the Israelis, including 47 children."

She called on us to reaffirm our commitment to fight against racism and fascism in this country and more widely.

"And let’s not forget the people of Palestine, the children of Palestine, and let us stand in solidarity with them as with all oppressed people worldwide."

Tommy Campbell
Tommy Campbell, Unite retired member and ATUC delegate recited moving poems, including Maya Angelou's "Still We Rise". 

Doug Haywood, EIS spoke of the unions current strike action for an improved pay rise for teachers and called on the Scottish Government and CoSLA to better value its teachers and come up with a decent pay rise.

Other speakers included Lee from "Just Stop Oil", Kate Blake, Aberdeen Climate Action, Jonathan Russell, CND North East; Robin Kaup, Grampian People's Alliance, Martin McKay, UNISON Grampian Health and Roman Berriman.

If any speaker wishes to send in their speeches we can post them online.

Graeme concluded by thanking all the speakers and all those who came along today.

Lee, Just Stop Oil

Jonathan Russell, CND

Iona Macdonald, musician

Kate Blake
Aberdeen Climate Action
Roman Berriman
Martin McKay

Robin Kaup, Grampian People's Alliance

Doug Haywood, EIS