The following article was first posted by the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign (Scotland).
UKRAINE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN (SCOTLAND) AND SOLIDARITY WITH GMB WORKERS AT BEITH
On Monday, September 18th, the UCS(S) supported a rally called by the GMB union at the DS Munitions Beith in North Ayrshire in support of the 70 GMB workers on strike against poverty pay, 26p over the £10.42 hourly minimum wage for working with high explosives.
The rally was hosted by Chris Kennedy GMB organiser Scotland, and addressed by local steward, Kyle Blair, SNP MP Patricia Gibson, and by Neil Bibby MSP Labour. SNP Glasgow Councillor and USCS member Graham Campbell read a message from Taras Fedirko, a Ukrainian member of USCS. Taras was unable to attend as he, as a UCU member, was on strike himself! He writes:
“I want to express my solidarity with you, and to thank you for doing your important work in the chain of support that will ultimately make Ukraine’s victory possible.
Since first supplied to Ukraine, Storm Shadow missiles have made a material difference for the defenders of Ukraine, striking deep into the Russian-occupied territory and destroying Russian stockpiles of ammunition. Retaking Ukrainian villages in the east and the south from the imperialist occupier is a task of monumental proportion, and you have made it easier. As a Ukrainian living and working in Scotland, I am profoundly grateful.
And I am also angry! It is abysmal that amidst a cost of living crisis cooked up by corporate inflation, in which the government has allowed capital to pocket exorbitant profits at our expense, Ministry of Defence won’t give you a decent pay offer, thinking that it can get away with it. Your struggle is also one of millions of people in the U.K. — but also in Ukraine. I am on strike today because employers in the university sector are every bit as recalcitrant as the MOD.
And in Ukraine, the government in the last year has curbed workers’ rights and encroached on the rights of trade unions. It has disregarded the rights of ordinary soldiers as workers. It does this not least because it emulates the British government and because British consultants developed the plans for destroying Ukraine’s labour code even before the Russian invasion.
Both the British and the Ukrainian governments think they can get away with it. We need to keep fighting to prove them wrong. We need to need solidarity across the labour movements in both countries. Because together, we will win!”
USCS member Colin Turbett, and a former chair of North Ayrshire UNISON branch, also spoke about international solidarity in Scotland past and present. Colin has just published “Aye Venceremos” a book about the Chile Solidarity movement in Scotland. He told how, as shown in the film “Nae Pasaran”, Rolls Royce workers at nearby East Kilbride, had, in solidarity with Chilean workers, boycotted the repair of Chilean Air Force Hawker Hunters engines. These aircraft had been used to kill elected Socialist President Salvador Allende in the Presidential Palace fifty years ago this month. Colin drew the parallel mutual solidarity between the GMB strikers whose work is processing the Storm Shadow long range missiles, and the Ukrainian unions who are supporting them.