Sunday, 14 July 2019

ATUC endorses call from Palestinian civil society to reject IHRA working definition of anti-semitism

In 2018, Palestinian civil society issued a call (1) urging the UK Labour Party and trade unions to reject the IHRA working definition of antisemitism which seeks to conflate antisemitism with criticism of Israel.
The examples used in this non-legally binding definition are increasingly (2) being used to silence criticism of Israeli policies that clearly violate Palestinian human rights. Accepted by the UK Government in 2016, the definition is also being adopted by an increasing number of local authorities, universities and public bodies, despite legal opinions declaring the definition not fit for purpose (3,4).

At their recent delegate meeting, ATUC delegates unanimously endorsed the call to reject the IHRA definition and examples, passing the following motion:

ATUC endorses the call by Palestinian workers for trade unions to reject the IHRA definition of anti-semitism with its ‘examples’ that act to conflate anti-semitism with criticism of Israel. This definition is being used to try to criminalise the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, and activists who campaign for Palestinian rights. The 2018 report on racial harassment commissioned by Scottish Government concluded that “hostility towards a political entity” should not be considered a hate crime and that “The right to engage in legitimate political protest is fundamental in a democratic society.” Trade unionists should act to show our Palestinian comrades that we will not be deterred from calling out the crimes of the Israeli state, and the denial of Palestinian rights.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Statement by Aberdeen Trades Union Council in response to article on James Duncan published in History Scotland

There are many reasons why Portlethen, Aberdeenshire, can be proud of James Duncan, who was born in nearby Hillside in 1857. After serving an apprenticeship as a granite cutter, Duncan escaped from a slump in the Scottish industry by emigrating to America. There he was to become President of the Granite Cutters National Union, from which position he promoted the eight hour day and old age pensions. He was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to serve in an American delegation to Russia in a response to the communist revolution. After the First World War, he participated in the talks in Paris which, in addition to trying to secure peace, also established the International Labour Organisation to promote workers’ rights.

However within his Granite Cutters National Union, workers’ rights were not promoted for all American workers. James Duncan focused on securing contracts and favourable employment terms and conditions for white workers only.

The Aberdeen historian, Neil McLennan, has written an article in the June 2019 edition of History Scotland about James Duncan, in which he refers to the decision of the Aberdeen Trades Union Council not to fund a memorial to James Duncan, and states: “A Labour local elected member and union leaders, it appears, got cold feet when they discovered that Duncan’s own union, the granite cutters, did not accept black workers.” The Aberdeen Trades Union Council and Portlethen’s Labour Councillor Alison Evison strongly refute this statement. The decision they took was the principled one that they could not fund a memorial to James Duncan from Trades Union Council funds, when presented with a request to do so by a local historian.

Tommy Campbell (ATUC) said: “Trades Union Council funds are there to support the aims and objectives of the ATUC. These include providing services to affiliated branches on a wide range of industrial, social and community issues, improving the economic and social conditions of all working people and promoting social, cultural, educational and sports facilities for all working people. Underpinning all of this work, are clear principles of equality and diversity and anti-racism. It would not be appropriate for ATUC funds to be used to commemorate someone who did not promote these principles, especially someone who worked so successfully for change in other areas.”

Labour Councillor Alison Evison said: “Any suggestion from Neil McLennan that the decision made by the ATUC not to fund a memorial to Duncan was due to “cold feet” is a total misrepresentation. The positive contributions made by James Duncan were in fact recorded in the ATUC’s own annual publication last year. However, the funds of the organisation must be used in a focused way to promote its own aims and objectives. We are living in increasingly challenging times, and must stand fast against all signs of racism and inequality. We see much in-work poverty and child poverty in our own communities and we need to work to address this. The priority of the ATUC must be the experience of current workers and their families, rather than a memorial to someone who did not practice equality or rights for all.” 

Note: This statement has also been published in full on the History Scotland website.

Monday, 24 June 2019

STUC research on the North East economy – please give your views

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) is conducting research on the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire economies and specifically the impact of austerity and oil and gas fluctuations on those living and working in the area.

Sarah Collins, STUC policy officer, is keen to speak to union members and citizens living in the area as part of this research.

Focus groups will take place the week of 8th July. If anyone would like to take part in the focus groups being held, or be interviewed as part of this research, please email Sarah on

If you are unable to take part in the focus group, please fill in this survey (which can be anonymous)

The STUC wants to hear your views!

We are currently particularly missing input from the following – migrant workers, young workers, unemployed; and in sectors of energy, care, distribution, tech and digital, and hospitality – but welcome submissions from across the whole of Aberdeen(shire) society. If you are living and/or working in the north east, we want to hear from you!

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Aberdeen Trades Union Council pays tribute as union stalwart, Tommy Campbell retires

Aberdeen Trades Union Council would like to add our voices to the very many wishing trade union stalwart, Tommy Campbell, a long and happy retirement, as he leaves his role as Unite full-time officer.

Few trade unionists are "better kent" in the North East than Tommy. He has been a passionate advocate of workers' and human rights, never afraid to challenge where these are not being upheld. He has also been a long-standing member of Aberdeen Trades Union Council where he is held in affection and respect.

This Morning Star article by Conrad Landin gives the background to Tommy's trade union activism and his determination to stand up for workers' and human rights both at home and internationally.

We can only echo the sentiments expressed by Tommy's colleagues and friends, as we pay tribute to his long service to trade unionism. He will be missed by members and colleagues in Unite but we are delighted that he will be continuing as an active member of the Trades Union Council.

Best wishes Tommy,

From your friends in Aberdeen Trades Union Council.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

The Future of the North East economy – we need your views - please complete a survey

The STUC will be holding a themed focus groups in Aberdeen on 27th May as part of their research into the Aberdeen/Shire economy. 

The date and venue for the focus group is
Monday 27th May
6-8pm:  Public Sector Workers
Unite Offices, 42-44 King Street, Aberdeen AB24 5TJ

Other focus groups have been CANCELLED but may be rearranged for later in June

All citizens are welcome to participate, including pensioners and trade union retired members.

If you would like to attend the public sector session, or would be interested in attending future sessions, please contact Sarah Collins: 

Meantime you can take part by doing a survey at

Please do go on and complete the survey. It will help the research immensely. 

Friday, 17 May 2019

ATUC urges affiliates to attend Grampian Pride on 25th May

Aberdeen Trades Union Council urges all affiliates and their families to join the second annual Grampian Pride parade on the 25th May 2019 in Aberdeen.

The parade will head down Union Street from Albyn Place at 10:30am and end at the Castlegate, where there will be entertainment.

Most of our Trade Union affiliates locally are actively involved in supporting Grampian Pride, and the struggle for LGBT+ rights both here and around the world.

Sasha Brydon, ATUC President said "Grampian Pride was such an excellent and vibrant event last year, with many community groups and unions taking part, and we hope to see an even greater turnout this year."

Fiona Napier, ATUC Secretary said "The TUC have just released the results of their first major study into LGBT+ sexual harassment at work in the UK, and the findings are shocking, with 68% reporting experiencing harassment in the workplace.

"This just demonstrates why events such as Pride are necessary to challenge such prejudice and stand in solidarity with our LGBT+ community."

For more information go to the Grampian Pride website.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

May day rally calls for protection of hard won equality and human rights

The May Day rally had a focus on equalities as speakers recognised that austerity and injustice hits hardest the very people who already suffer discrimination because of difference, be it in this country or across the world.

ATUC President, Sasha Brydon chaired the rally and opened with a call for justice which must be fought for every day, not just on the 1st May.
"We must resolutely reject attacks on our very humanity by governments and capitalists both at home and abroad," said Sasha.