Aug 122018
 

On 18 July, groups up and down the country protested Donald Trump’s visit to the UK, which Theresa May had organised.  Aberdeen’s TUC protested his presence too, and here is how Kathleen Kennedy, ATUC president, remembered the day.  As told to Suzanne Kelly.

Groups up and down the UK protested Donald Trump’s visit on Friday 13th July.  Tripping up Trump had a splendid campaign seeing slogans written in the sand near the Menie Course. 

London saw tens of thousands gather at Trafalgar Square – with a giant baby Trump inflatable which angered Trump even before it was flown.

Kathleen Kennedy and scores of ATUC members took to the street to protest the visit President Donald Trump made to the UK and his golf courses.

Ms TUC president,  helped organise the demonstration, which she spoke at.  She said:

“In my speech I made two connections to Donald Trump and myself as we both presidents as I am the ATUC president and he is USA but I am the one people like!

“The other thing: we both mothers from Lewis I am ashamed to admit!”

The day was a success up and down the country, but it had a further special meeting to Kathleen over and above Trump’s poor record in treating workers.

Ms Kennedy added:

“I then spoke about how he treated a disabled reporter with Cerebral Palsy (like I have) in his campaign and this was something I was outraged about as the man was doing his job and this shouldn’t be tolerated anything.

“I then end the with Gaelic word to go away and said if he really proud of his Scottish roots he would know what I meant.”

At the time of writing, it seems unlikely there will be another state visit from the KKK-endorsed president:  he has just admitted on twitter that his son Donald Junior, his campaign manager, met with Russian operatives to try to influence the outcome of the US election which saw Hillary Clinton win the popular vote, but lose the electoral college election.

A newly-released photo of Trump junior with a woman said to be a Russian spy won’t help the Trump family, either.

Ms May was criticised for organising the visit, which had more false steps than a Gay Gordons danced at 2am at a wedding in Peterhead.

Kathleen said:

“We had well over 100 people there there was people from different groups but almost a carnival atom sphere as we unity to send the message: ‘Donald your views aren’t welcomed here.'”

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Jan 162014
 

march2611picAberdeen Trades Union Council have expressed concerns at Police Scotland plans for Aberdeen HQ.

At its first meeting of 2014, delegates of Aberdeen Trades Union Council expressed grave concern at the lack of clarity regarding Police Scotland’s plans for Aberdeen.
Kevin Hutchens, an Executive Committee member and spokesperson for Aberdeen TUC stated:

“There is great concern that no public statement has been made confirming the future use of the Queen St offices of Police Scotland.

“It would be disastrous for many of our members who live and work in Aberdeen if these facilities are lost, especially on the back of the already announced Court Closures which are progressing at pace, with Stonehaven Court due to close at the end of May this year.

”We have particular concern for the many shopworkers, bus drivers and all other public sector workers who daily provide a service to the city.

“While call centres can provide a valuable service there is no real substitute for the face to face support a Police Officer at a community based public access front desk can provide.

“Needless to say it is also crucial that front line investigations of crime should also be pursued from the City Centre HQ.”

Kevin Hutchens went on to say:

“We are therefore calling on Police Scotland to confirm the long term future of the Aberdeen Queen Street HQ and all the services it provides there.”

For any further comment, Kevin Hutchens Unite delegate and ATUC Executive committee member can be contacted on 01569 763994 or 07948 555 066

Brian Carroll, Interim Secretary ATUC and PCS Union Branch Secretary can be contacted on 07826 890 342

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Nov 282013
 

By Brian Carroll, Interim Secretary of Aberdeen Trades Union Council

StAndrewsThis St Andrews Day, join Aberdeen ‘s celebration of Equality, Diversity and Respect.

We hope that you will join us in ensuring this event is a success, bringing together communities, celebrating the diversity across our city, and invigorating our on-going struggles for equality, diversity and respect for all.

ASSEMBLE: 10.30 am at St Nicholas Kirk Churchyard, Aberdeen. March leaves at 11am on Saturday November 30th, followed by a rally outside Marischal College, with speeches on a variety of equality issues, by Speakers from across the Equalities spectrum.

This march and rally complements and goes along with the STUC Anti Racist March and Rally in Glasgow on the same day.

We in Aberdeen have a proud record of being a multcultural, diverse and welcoming city to all and have a proud history in promoting dignity, respect, equality and fairness for all, and this day is to promote these aspects of our city.

A range of speakers will be at the rally from across the equalities spectrum, speaking on issues that are having a real detrimental impact on the lives of people across this city and the country as a whole.

We also hope to have representatives from Inverness, Moray and Dundee Trades Union Council along with MSP’s, MP’s and Local Councillors in attendance along with various local community and action groups who have organised this event with ATUC.

For further information please contact:-

Brian Carroll
Interim Secretary of Aberdeen Trades Union Council
01224 657267 (between 9am and 5pm) OR
07826 890 342

Apr 262012
 

Workers Memorial Day Event and Day of Action to defend Health and Safety  – “Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living !”

Saturday 28 April will see various events take place in Aberdeen City Centre; everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. With thanks to Brian Carroll.

Workers’ Memorial Day takes place annually around the world on 28 April 2012. It is an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work. It is an opportunity to highlight the preventable nature of most workplace accidents and ill health and to promote campaigns and union organisation in the fight for improvements in workplace safety.

Although April 28 is used as the focal point for remembrance and a day of International solidarity, campaigning and other related activities continue throughout the year right around the world.

Sultan Feroz, Aberdeen TUC secretary, told Aberdeen Voice:-

“We would urge all Aberdonians and local communities to join us on Saturday, not only to celebrate, but also to show respect and to remember workers who have lost their lives.  We also managed to prevent the National Front from marching; we do not want them associated with us and our City.”

This year the TUC is calling on health and safety representatives, trades councils and safety campaigners to make 28th April a day of action to defend health and safety from the attacks on regulation, enforcement, cuts and refusal to tackle the massive toll that health and safety breaches take on workers. Our health and our safety is under attack like never before and we must defend it, for our sake and for the sake of future generations or workers.

To this end Aberdeen Trades Union Council have organised a Workers Memorial Day Service at the ATUC Workers Memorial in Persley Gardens, Persley, Aberdeen, on Saturday 28 April 2012 at 10am (Gathering from 9.45am).

All are welcome.

This years theme is Protecting H&S from the deregulation and de-legislation that the current ConDem Government want to introduce, which has already commenced with the slackening of the RIDDOR Regulations and the cutting of the services provided by HSE to employers. The Service will last for Approx 30mins.

May Day March and Rally – Saturday 28 April 2012 (Gathering from 11am and March off at 1130am)

“May Day” is a celebration of what has been achieved in protecting and in improving workers rights through various struggles over the years, by the Trade Union movement and its members, for the rights of employment that all employees currently have.

It is also, like Workers Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who have given their lives in the struggle for workers and their rights, all the way from the Tolpuddle martyrs, to the demonstrations and action that have been taken recently and will be taken in the not too distant future.

To celebrate May Day and all that it stands for in this continuing struggle by workers to be treated fairly, Aberdeen Trades Union Council have organised The Aberdeen May Day March and Rally which will commence by everyone taking part, gathering at St Nicholas Churchyard, Union St, Aberdeen from 11am.

Those present will then march off at 1130am to a Rally in the Castlegate at 12noon.

  • Refreshments will be laid on after the march and rally in the ATUC Club, Adelphi, Aberdeen once the rally has concluded.
  • Speakers will be: Local Trade Unionists; Aberdeen Against Austerity; Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Students Union, MP’s and MSP’s and
  • Guest Speaker – Cheryl Gedling (PCS Union NEC)
Apr 062012
 

With thanks to  Kevin Hutchens.

Aberdeen TUC successfully mounted a co-ordinated campaign against the plans of the National Front (the NF) to march in Aberdeen on Hitler’s birthday, Friday 20th April.
The NF of course claimed it had nothing to do with the birthday of the Fascist Dictator and everything to do with the founding date of the SNP.

Surprisingly then, some would say, both the reports from Grampian Police and the Human Rights Impact Assessment carried out by the City Council argued that there might possibly be a link between the date and Hitler’s birthday: though both, in the interests of democracy, recognised the need to consider other options .

The Trade Union movement played a vital and crucial role in co-ordinating opposition via written representations, and also expressed its opposition via two media and press events. Not surprisingly, the NF did not help themselves when they accused the media of being “Zionist” because of the way they reported the proposed event .

On the day of the Aberdeen City Council Licensing Committee, 27th March 2012, a small but determined and committed group of activists from ATUC waited outside the Council Chambers. Much was made of this by the NF, but what they failed to realise and mention is that the activists which were present, though small in number, represented the interests of thousands of Trade Unionists from across the North East.

At the end of the day, Aberdeen City Council Licensing Committee refused (“Prohibited” in Council parlance) the application to march, on public order and public safety grounds. What had however been noticeable in the debate was the unwillingness of the NF to move on crucial issues including the planned time of the march, the starting point of the march and the route. Clearly the committee made the right decision on behalf of the City of Aberdeen.

Whatever the decision, it still remains an important role to expose the National Front for the way many of their supporters promote racism, Islamophobia and Holocaust denial.

“No Pasaran” is the call that comes to mind !

Kevin Hutchens
ATUC Delegate for Unite Local Government,  Aberdeenshire Branch.

Mar 012012
 

Aberdeen Against Austerity informs Voice of its intention to take to the city’s streets this Saturday (3rd March).

This action is part of a national day of protest against the UK Government’s Workfare Scheme under which multi-national companies, whose profits run into billions of pounds, receive countless hours of free man/womanpower courtesy of taxpayers.

At least thirty other cities around the UK will host similar demonstrations.

How does the Workfare Scheme operate?

The jobseeker labours for perhaps eight hours daily, receives no wages from the company, creates wealth for the bosses and shareholders and in return receives only his/her Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA). As a result, participants in the programme receive well below £2 per hour for time they have been forced to give to multi-billionaire companies.

Many fear that these phenomenally low wages are being used by bosses to drive down existing staff wages under threat of replacement by Workfare participants. Commentators have used the term ‘slave labour’ to describe this Tory policy, with some even challenging the legality of the Scheme under Human Rights Law.

Not looking hard enough for work

Conservative ministers and right-wing journalists have tried to justify the Scheme in recent weeks using the same tired old argument that JSA claimants are responsible for their own misery because they are ‘workshy’, ‘lazy’ and ‘lacking in drive’.

“These ‘lazy’ individuals just aren’t looking hard enough for work,” cries the right.

Figures show these ludicrous opinions to be baseless whilst revealing the underlying structural problems of our economic system. We have 2.67m unemployed, although the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has reported that the true figure might be 6.3m, and only 476,000 job vacancies. That means 5.6 people are applying for every job, or 13.2 people if the TUC figures are used.

Joblessness is a very real and serious issue woven into the fabric of our economy and it cannot simply be blamed on the ‘feckless unemployed’.

The proponents of Workfare claim that the most effective way to get ‘workshy’ claimants back to work is by threat of the loss of their JSA. This is very misguided. The Government’s own review, commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions in 2008, concluded:

 “There is little evidence that Workfare increases the likelihood of finding work. It can even reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by employers.”

Political and ideological

It’s clear. Workfare is a political programme, designed and carried out by a government of millionaires with a strong ideological undercurrent, through which they seek to:

  • Undermine the legal minimum wage.
  • Continue the demonisation of those out of work to justify the increasing wealth gap between the rich and poor.
  • Strengthen the very close ties between big business and government.
  • Ensure that the most vulnerable in society pay for the economic crisis rather than those who caused or played a major role in it.
  • Continue to apply downward pressure to existing workers’ pay and terms and conditions

Aberdeen Against Austerity and many other groups will be raising awareness nationwide by naming and shaming Workfare providers this Saturday (3rd March) in Aberdeen city centre. We’ll meet in the Castlegate at 12 noon.

See you on the streets.

Jul 012011
 

In a week where the media have been vilifying public sector workers taking strike action to protest at government cuts and pension changes, little coverage has been given to alternative proposals for dealing with the UK’s economic deficit. Patrick V Neville gives his views.

On June 30 we visited two picket lines and attended a meeting of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) to understand their feelings on cuts in public services and to show support for the workers who, against the wishes of the government, organised strike action.
Needless to say, PCS members we spoke to felt unhappy about our nation’s financial situation.

If the full cuts proposed are implemented, one in every five public service jobs would be lost, adding further to the UK’s unemployment rate. Not only could there be fewer jobs, but those who will still have a job available to them face cuts to their pension schemes.

Each worker in government pension schemes could see their contributions doubled or even tripled. To the best of my knowledge, this extra money contributed will initially end up in government funds – but with rising poverty, corporate tax avoidance and evasion and rising prices of consumer goods, will there even be money available for pensions in a few years time? If so, will the cost of living become too expensive for the average person to survive?

Investment in jobs and public services must be in place if we desire a future free from poverty and we could avoid the majority of public services cuts if we take the right course of action.

Corporate tax loopholes are estimated to be costing the tax payer £25 billion a year.

Since moving its headquarters to Switzerland, Boots has reduced its annual tax bill from £100m to £14m, a saving enough to employ 4000 NHS nurses.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/11/boots-switzerland-uk

Rather than closing tax loopholes, we are making cuts in the public sector.

Billionaire Sir Philip Green is to advise the government on how best to plan for the cuts, rewarding himself hugely in doing so. Sir Philip is the owner of the Arcadia retail group which includes Topshop, Topman, Burton, BHS, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge. The company is registered in the name of Sir Philip’s wife Tina, who resides in Monaco and therefore pays no UK income tax. This arrangement has allowed the Greens to save around £300m in UK taxes.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/03/topshop-philip-green-tax-avoidance-protest

Tax evasion and avoidance aside, who have we bailed out?

The Royal Bank of Scotland was rescued with £45 billion of public money. This represents over half of the £81 billion planned in cuts over the next four years. Rather than being allowed to stay open, the bank should have come to terms with closure.

Public spending cuts are more damaging, and minimising them and their effect is more important than encouraging risk-taking bankers to carry on trading.

UK Uncut has leafleted members of the public near the premises of targeted retailers to inform them of tax avoiding measures taken by these retailers.
http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/

I would encourage anyone wishing to preserve a future free from poverty to choose where they shop carefully, to write to politicians and businessmen, to contact journalists to demand coverage of tax avoidance and evasion and simply to consider bringing up these issues with friends and relatives.

Jun 292011
 

 With thanks to Mark Chapman.

Civil and public servants across the UK and from within Aberdeen & Inverness Revenue & Customs Branch, will be joining teachers, head teachers and university lecturers striking against attacks on pensions, jobs and services on 30th June.

The government wants to make public servants work at least:-

  • 8 years longer,
  • pay double or triple more per month
  • not get any benefit from that whatsoever to receive a reduced pension
  • accept real term pay cuts of 10% which is not only affecting the standard of living of public servants, but is already reducing the worth of their future pension entitlement

They say  ‘we are all in this together’ but the bankers are still getting their multi-million pound bonuses for failed banks owned by the taxpayer and the majority of the cabinet are millionaires.

In PCS Aberdeen & Inverness Revenue & Customs Branch we will be striking on 30 June.  There will be picket lines at all branch offices, but in Aberdeen as well as having a picket line, PCS representatives and members will also be joining together for a union breakfast followed by a cross unions meeting in the Aberdeen Trades Union Council Social Club at Adelphi at 12pm.

With inflation at over 5% in the last 2 years, the current pay freeze on Civil Servants pay actually represents a real terms pay cut of at least 10%. Probably more when you take account of rising costs. We have also had an increase in National Insurance contributions and VAT. Aberdeen PCS members’ standards of living have already been severely attacked and eroded and we are not prepared to accept any further cuts when they are totally unnecessary, especially when it is clear that the increased pensions contributions we are being asked to pay are going to pay off the deficit; these increased contributions are not being invested for the benefit of the employees.

There is £120 Billion of unpaid, evaded or avoided Tax to be collected and the UK, the 6th largest economy in the world, holds £850 billion in banking assets from the bailout of the banks – this is more than the national debt.

Mark Chapman, Branch Chair of Aberdeen & Inverness Revenue & Customs Branch of PCS Union said:

“The government admits that money cut from pensions will go straight to the Treasury to help pay off the deficit in what is nothing more than a tax on working in the civil and public sector. The very modest pay and pensions of public servants did not cause the recession, so they should not be blamed, punished or demonised for it.

“Unless ministers abandon their ideological plans to hollow out and attack the public sector in the way they propose, they will face industrial action on a mass scale on 30 June and beyond.”

An AO (Admin Officer), 38 yrs of age added:

“I’ve worked out that I will pay an extra £48.75 per month, have to work 7 years longer than I expected and will lose approximately £19,000 from my pension too.

“I cannot afford this. I already struggle to make it to pay day at the end of the month and this all because this government wants me and people like me to pay for a crisis caused by failed banks and the irresponsible non-investment decisions of those who run those banks.

“This is not equality of sacrifice, is not fair and is criminally unjust. This is on top of an expected pay freeze which is already making life harder for me and is already hitting the future worth of my pension”

There will be picket lines outside most major HMRC buildings and other Civil Service buildings, and services to the public will be disrupted.

Striking Aberdeen PCS Union members will join teachers, other striking workers and representatives from other Unions at various meetings and rallies up and down the country, showing support and solidarity for this action.

PCS, the Public and Commercial Services Union is the largest Civil Service Union. It has over 290,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies throughout the UK. It also represents workers in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS Union is the UK’s sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC.  For further info See: http://www.pcs.org.uk/

 

Reduced Tax Office Hours Will Hit Pensioners Hardest

 Aberdeen City, Articles, Community, Information, Opinion  Comments Off on Reduced Tax Office Hours Will Hit Pensioners Hardest
Mar 042011
 

With thanks to Mark Chapman.

HM Revenue and Customs proposals to cut the days the tax enquiry centre in Aberdeen will open, will drastically reduce frontline services, the Public and Commercial Services union warns.

The enquiry centre is currently open each weekday offering face to face tax advice but from May HMRC is proposing to reduce this to only 3 days a week. The PCS, which represents staff at the office, is concerned this will hit pensioners and those claiming tax credits the hardest as they are the centre’s most frequent callers.

They have also warned it will lead to more problems for people with enquiries caused by the PAYE computer system fiasco.

Mark Chapman, PCS Aberdeen & Inverness Revenue & Customs Branch Chair said.

Enquiry centre users often travel miles to visit the office to sort out their tax problems. We are worried that when they get here, they will find it closed, and have to come back another day.

We are also concerned that with opening times reduced, customers may have to wait some time for an appointment. Many of these people rely on tax credits or are pensioners and cannot afford to wait or spend more to get here. They will be inconvenienced by these plans.

The enquiry centres also provide telephones and internet access. This saves people the cost of ringing from home and they feel more confident as local staff are available to give advice if needed.

HMRC aims to persuade more people to use the internet or telephone but many people still do not have access to the internet or do not feel comfortable using it to get advice about financial matters. Staffing has been reduced in HMRC contact centres and they are currently only able to answer less than 50% of calls.

PCS is urging people to email mailbox.f2fchangeteam@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk to respond to HMRC’s consultation on the reduction of opening times.

Notes

– For more information contact Mark Chapman on 0798 447 9628

– The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector.  PCS is the UK’s sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC.  The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich

– Follow PCS on Twitter http://twitter.com/pcs_union