Coventry City Branch UNISON – Motion on #Ukraine passed at Branch Committee – March 2022

Standard

This branch condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has already resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and a growing refugee crisis. We call for the immediate withdrawal of the Russian military from Ukraine.

Inherent in the situation is the risk of even greater escalation which could result in a catastrophic loss of life and widespread destruction.

We oppose the invasion of Russia into Ukraine – we also oppose the expansion of NATO through central and eastern Europe which has inflamed the situation. We will also oppose any NATO intervention in Ukraine.

As a public sector union, we send our support to all trade unionists and workers within Ukraine, many of whom will be continuing to carry out their jobs in extreme conditions. We support attempts by the trade union movement in Ukraine to continue organising whilst recognising that the Zelensky government is not a friend of trade unions nor minorities.

Despite the terrible situation and facing substantial intimidation and danger, we show our complete solidarity with those within Russia who have taken to the streets in over 50 cities against Putin and the war, with at least 10000 protestors being arrested for speaking out against the war

We also show our solidarity with independent trade unions in Belarus and Russia who have issued anti war statements.

Unlike every government involved in this war – the trade union movement seeks to unite workers across and within national boundaries – we call for the unity of working class people in Ukraine and Russia. We defend the right of self determination for all in the region. Against nationalism and war we stand for internationalism, working class unity and solidarity.

The Tory government has once again shown its utter hypocrisy – pretending to stand for ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ yet barely taking in any refugees. Refugees should be welcomed and not subject to a tortuous process that puts up barriers – with full access to welfare, housing and with the right to work. Furthermore Johnson criticises Russia – yet is trying to bring in the PCSC bill that would see a clampdown on the right to protest and demonstrate.

We also condemn politicians such as Keir Starmer who have attempted to paint those who oppose the war and oppose NATO as supporters of Putin. This witchunting atmosphere represents a clampdown on the democratic right to free speech and enables racism against ordinary Russians living in the UK and elsewhere, as well as increasing the threats against anti war campaigners. We also note that Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventry South, has received death threats and been labelled as ‘Putin’s whore’. We condemn these abhorrent threats on Zarah Sultana and the anti war movement

We recognise that ‘hard hitting economic sanctions’ in fact impact on ordinary working class people the most in both Russia and the UK through higher fuel and food prices for example. We see how in countries like Iraq where sanctions were introduced against Saddam Hussein, that it was ordinary Iraqis who suffered the most. We support workers’ action against the Russian and NATO war machines.

Our branch resolves to:

  • Support protests against the war in Ukraine and further escalation. We need a mass anti war movement here in the UK and across the world.
  • Send messages of support to workers and trade unions that have taken action against the war
  • Where possible seek to make links with trade unions in the region
  • Make a donation to the international trade union appeal as publicised by UNISON
  • Seek to make links as appropriate with local communities impacted by the war and where applicable help the call for donations of goods to send to Ukraine
  • Send this motion onward to relevant bodies

Report of UNISON West Midlands International Forum March 2021 – Unions in #Chile and #Colombia

Standard

UNISON is involved in a wide range of fields – one of which is international solidarity work. It is really important that trade union activists and members support other workers in different parts of the world, many of whom are organising under very difficult and dangerous circumstances.

A regional international forum is held 4-5 times per year to discuss different solidarity campaigns and to coordinate our work.

For the March meeting we welcomed speakers from the Chile Solidarity Network and Justice for Colombia.

There were common themes with both speakers – trade unionists and campaigners suffering repression from the state. For example, Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist with regular murders and threats.

The speaker on Chile talked about how mass protests in 2019 had been massive, with millions on the streets against attacks from the government. There are still remnants of the General Pinochet regime which came to power in the 1973 coup against a democratically elected left-wing government. The coup was backed by the CIA and later Pinochet became close friends with former UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Tens of thousands of trade union activists were tortured, killed and some simply ‘disappeared’ never to be seen again causing huge grief for their families.

Likewise, in Colombia people take great risks by being trade union activists and fighting for workers rights. Both speakers were very inspiring – bad situations were detailed but it was also reported that despite everything workers, communities and their organisations find ways to organise and fight back and have been able to score victories.

To read more about the campaigns visit the links below

https://justiceforcolombia.org/

https://chilesolidaritynetwork.com/

If you would like more information about our international work, or to get involved please contact paul.hunt@unisoncoventry.co.uk