Monday 29 April 2024

Rainy but very moving International Workers' Memorial Day ceremony

Despite the rain, the International Memorial Day (IWMD) ceremony in the beautiful surroundings of Persley Walled Gardens was well attended and very moving.

Wreaths were laid from many unions and organisations to remember all those who died at their work and to pledge to continue our fight for the living. The provost of Aberdeen laid a wreath on behalf of Aberdeen City Council whilst Kate Ramsden laid the wreath on behalf of ATUC.

We are grateful, as always to Norman Adam, ACC photographer for these photographs.

Kate Ramsden lays wreath on behalf of ATUC

The ceremony was chaired by Vice President, Kathleen Kennedy, who called for a minute's silence to remember all those killed at their work. In doing so she paid tribute to two of our own who died last year, Ron Webster and Gerry McCabe.

Aberdeen City Council provost, David Cameron was the first to speak. He reminded us of the international context to the event and spoke of the importance of campaigning for workers’ health and safety not only in this country but also across the world, highlighting countries like Bangladesh where regulation is lax.

Thursday 25 April 2024

Care workers ask Scottish Government "Where are the missing millions!"

ATUC sends solidarity to social care workers from Unite, UNISON and GMB who today picketed the Scottish parliament demanding the return of the ‘missing millions’ cut from the Scottish Government’s Budget for social care workers.

Information from the Scottish Trades Union Congress’ ‘Missing Millions’ campaign has shown that £38 million of ringfenced funding for maternity, paternity and sick pay for social care workers in Scotland was secretly cut from the latest Scottish Government budget.

Workers protested outside the Scottish Parliament to demand the return of the cash, accusing the Scottish Government of “betraying” social care workers. ATUC delegate Paul King was amongst those protesting and features in this STUC video

The ‘Missing Millions’ campaign was launched last week during STUC Congress. A Freedom of Information request has shown that the £38 million cut was pulled directly from the Scottish Government’s Fair Work in Social Care terms and conditions workstream in September 2023.

Join us at our May Day march and rally on 4 May

Please join us at our Aberdeen Trades Union Council May Day march and rally on Saturday 4th May 2024 to celebrate International Workers' Day.

Marchers will gather at Rubislaw Terrace at 11.00am, to march off at 11.30am down Union Street, led by the beats of the Guarana Drummers. 

In a change of route, the march will then proceed down Union Terrace and up Schoolhill to Broad Street.

A rally will be held in the Castlegate from 12 noon where we will hear from a range of speakers from trade unions and community groups.

ATUC Vice President, Kathleen Kennedy, who aill chair the rally said, "As councils again face unprecedented cuts to their budgets, and citizens of the North East struggle with the cost of living crisis, it has never been more important that we stand together in solidarity.

"Workers face cuts to terms and conditions and increasing pressures in the workplace and at the same time, communities are faced with the impact of cuts that will undermine their living standards and quality of life. 

"It has never been more important to support all these struggles. They are all linked and collective action is our strength. A win for one is a win for all."

Friday 19 April 2024

Join us at International Workers' Memorial Day and "remember the dead, fight for the living"

Representatives from the affiliated Trade Union branches of Aberdeen Trades Union Council, Action on Asbestos, Thompsons Solicitors and Aberdeen City Council will commemorate International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) on separate events on Friday 26th and Sunday 28th April at the locations listed below.

The International Workers’ Memorial Day theme is to "remember the dead, fight for the living."

Kathleen Kennedy, Vice-President of ATUC said, "On International Workers Memorial Day we pay our respects and remember all those who have lost their lives through a workplace accident or an industrial related disease.

"Whilst we will always remember the dead, we reiterate our fundamental right and duty to fight for the living by ensuring that all workplaces are safe and healthier to work in."

IWMD Aberdeen Events

Trade union councils centre stage at STUC Congress 2024

Mike Arnott
#STUC24 Congress 2024 in Dundee had a pleasing focus on Trades Union Councils, perhaps because it was ably chaired by this year’s president, Mike Arnott, who sits on a Trade Union Council seat on the STUC General Council. 

Mike gave an inspiring address to conference, in which he slammed cuts to councils. He also had a warning for our movement. "When it comes to equalities, unions must walk the walk as well as talk the talk and take a zero tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination and bullying, including where it takes place in our own movement." This theme was later picked up in our own motion to Congress.

In her speech to Congress STUC General Secretary, Roz Foyer spoke of the key importance of the work of trade union councils, to co-ordinate grassroots trade unionists and community activism at local level. She urged affiliated unions to ensure their branches affiliate to their local TUCs.

A film was shown at conference showcasing the role of TUCs. Aberdeen TUC was represented through Kate Ramsden, who spoke of the excellent work of ATUC and called for more trade union activists to get involved as delegates from their union, especially young workers.

Aberdeen TUC was represented at Congress by Kathleen Kennedy, (delegation leader) Scott Sutherland and Kate Ramsden.

All three of our original ATUC motions were debated and approved and we were also delighted to second motions from UCU and Moray TUC. Kate also spoke on the Social Care composite from UNISON. Reports of our involvement are detailed below. Unfortunately, both our emergency motions were ruled out of order for different reasons.

Time to get our house in order

Kathleen Kennedy
#STUC24 Congress unanimously supported a call from Aberdeen Trades Union Council for trade unions and trade union councils to practice what they preach on equalities.

The general council will work with equalities groups urging them to report annually on equality statistics and aims and targets to improve them if needed.

Moving the motion
Kathleen Kennedy told delegates that saying we are doing equalities isn’t good enough.

“Let’s get real and prove we are doing it,” she urged.

She said that checking back on ATUC’s 150 years it’s clear that there have been only two women presidents and only two disabled presidents.

“We need to get our own house in order,” challenged Kathleen, calling for annual reporting of unions’ and TU councils’ equality stats and targets for improvement.

Speakers from other unions supported our motion making it clear that there is still a way to go across the TU movement on gender equality and other equalities.

Risk assessments must take account of climate change

Kate Ramsden
#STUC24 Congress backed Aberdeen Trades Union Council’s call for mandatory workplace based climate hazards risk assessments to deal with the changing risks that climate change has brought.

It will also campaign for a specific maximum working temperature law now that high temperatures are a growing feature of our climate.

Moving the motion, Kate Ramsden reminded delegates that Scotland’s climate is changing and last June was the hottest on record.

“All this affects our members at their work - sweltering under temperatures above 40 degrees C in work vehicles and buildings - well in excess of what we are normally used to.

“As a country we need employers to adapt to climate change and to severe weather events to keep the public and our members safe at their work.

“Unions and trades councils are in a great position to engage with our members and public and private sector employers to negotiate and campaign for workplace based climate hazard risk assessments.

She called on the General Council to build on the excellent Adaption Scotland Climate Hazards and Resilience in the Workplace resource to keep it fit for purpose and to ensure activists are trained on it.

Lessons from International Brigades recognised

Scott Sutherland
#STUC24 Congress backed a call from Aberdeen Trades Union Council to campaign to have the story of the International Brigade included in the curriculum of schools, universities and colleges.

It will also ensure a focus on the International Brigades during 2026, the 90th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War.

Scott Sutherland, moving the motion highlighted that the fight against fascism from the 1930s has the lessons for us today.

“The brigades stood and fought with the Spanish people against the nazis and the rise of poisonous fascism.

“A strong message of working class resistance was sent to France, Hitler and Mussolini.”

Scott quoted the late Bob Cooney, an international brigader from Aberdeen, who said, “The lessons learned on the battlefields of Spain helped to defeat Hitler, Mussolini and fascism.”

Scott applauded the International Brigade Memorial Trust for keeping up the profile of the Spanish Civil War and the fight against fascism. He called on Congress to do the same.

Solidarity brings hope amidst the war crimes and genocide in Gaza and West Bank

Husam Zomlot
#STUC24 Tuesday saw an extremely powerful session on Gaza and Palestine. We heard from Husam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the UK and Shaher Saed, General Secretary of the PGFTU.

Husam Zomlot gave the long history of the oppression and occupation of the Palestinians by Israel over many years and the UK’s complicity.

Both railed unbelievingly against the failure of the US, the UK and other western governments to act in support of Gaza despite the daily evidence of slaughter, famine and genocide.

Both described the impact of 193 days of bombardment and the withholding of humanitarian aid by Israel; the murders of over 33,000 civilians - many more missing under the rubble of homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, universities, museums, trade union buildings. The entire infrastructure razed to the ground. The murders of entire families, over 14,000 children, health care workers, aid workers, journalists - all war crimes.

Reverse cuts to modern language teaching at Aberdeen University

Kathleen Kennedy
#STUC24 Congress gave its full support to the University and Colleges Union in its fight against cuts to modern language teaching at Aberdeen University.

The General Council will lobby the Scottish Government for proper funding that reflects the costs of teaching these subjects.

Seconding the UCU motion, Aberdeen Trades Union Council’s Kathleen Kennedy said that these cuts were bad for the university, bad for the staff, bad for students but also bad for our communities in the North East of Scotland.

She told delegates that the North East already faces problems attracting teachers. “With an end to teaching and research in modern languages in the university there will be fewer prospective teachers graduating.”

“Instead of cutting provision, the university should be protecting these jobs and their expertise in modern languages. And the Scottish government should be funding it properly.

“It’s important not just for Aberdeen university’s reputation and for its staff and students, but for our communities in the North East of Scotland.

ScotWind Debacle – cock-up or conspiracy?

Kate Ramsden
#STUC24 The STUC will add its voice to calls for an urgent public enquiry into the Scottish Government’s ScotWind auction which sold off Scotland’s offshore wind rights at a knock down price, underselling by billions of pounds.

Kate Ramsden on behalf of Aberdeen Trades Union Council seconded the motion from Moray Trade Union Council.

She condemned this sale of public assets, which has put money in the hands of big business to make their profits with, as it stands, no benefit to Scotland or local communities.

Kate added, “We need to know what went wrong - conspiracy or cock-up so that our demands for a just transition can be more than a pipe dream.

“The Scottish government needs to stop selling off our public assets at knock down prices - or at all,” she said, adding that it also needs to stop using private consultants at a cost of mega bucks.

“We need to know how the ScotWind debacle has come about but more importantly, how Scotland can still benefit from the current project.”

National Care Service bill – still not fit for purpose

Kate Ramsden
#STUC24 In the first debate of Congress, delegates backed a call for the National Care Service bill to be scrapped and for a public, not for profit service to be designed in conjunction with all interested parties.

The composite motion was moved by UNISON’s Audrey McCabe, herself a care worker. She made a powerful call for sectoral bargaining and decent pay and status for social care workers recognising the essential work they do.

Kate Ramsden supported, on behalf of Aberdeen Trades Union Council, pointing out that the Scottish Government has approved its so called National Care Service bill at Stage 1, because the Minister says she will no longer implement it as it stands. However she has not shown what the bill will actually look like.

“So the reality is that the bill remains as it always did, with all the aspects we campaigned against still there,” warned Kate.

The Minister has promised that the Bill will look nothing like the one approved by the government, but demands by the Health, social care and sports committee that she publish her amendments by end March have been… well, ignored.”

Instead she has set up a hastily convened Expert Legal Advisory Group to consider amendments. “It has 61 members, said Kate. “If a camel is a horse designed by a committee we can expect to get something like a Komodo dragon,” said Kate to some laughter.

Monday 1 April 2024

ATUC remembers lives lost in Bond helicopter tragedy

Scott Sutherland lays wreath on behalf of ATUC
Aberdeen Trades Union Council (ATUC) today, 1st April laid a wreath at the Bond helicopter accident memorial in Johnston Gardens, Aberdeen, on the fifteenth anniversary of the fatal helicopter accident that claimed 16 lives.

ATUC member, Scott Sutherland laid the wreath. Scott was accompanied by other ATUC delegates and Unite offshore workplace reps from Unite Bilfinger offshore fabric maintenance branch.

Aberdeen TUC spokesperson Tommy Campbell said, “On the fifteenth anniversary of the Bond offshore helicopter fatal accident off the coast of Peterhead our thoughts are still with the families, work colleagues and friends who are still affected by this horrific accident. 

"It should never be forgotten that the helicopter operator was supposed to replace part of the gearbox just a week before the accident. They failed to do so due to a lack of communication with the aircraft manufacturer Eurocopter. Had the helicopter operator taken precautions, including following agreed procedures and communications, these deaths could have been avoided. 

"Aberdeen TUC continues to support all the offshore based Trade Unions who are still demanding a full public inquiry into helicopter safety in the UK offshore oil and gas industry."

Unite Bilfinger Offshore fabric maintenance branch
and the Aberdeen TUC delegates