International Issues

UNISON Pays Tribute to Nelson Mandela



UNISON Pays Tribute to Nelson Mandela


UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis today paid tribute to the courage and determination of Nelson Mandela, who has died in South Africa.

"Nelson Mandela was a truly great man. His courage, determination and dignity in the face of extreme and harsh imprisonment was an inspiration to the world.

"His strength of character was shown time and again through the desperate years of apartheid and then in the long road to rebuilding and uniting his nation.

"Our union was proud to have stood by him and others in the movement in the tough times to help support their historic struggle for equality, justice and in ending apartheid.

"And we are proud that he was an honorary president of UNISON.

"We mourn his passing, but are grateful for his life".

Mr Prentis observed that "thousands upon thousands in our union were active in the anti-apartheid movement, and our work, support and funding for exiled ANC leaders here in London played a crucial role in that struggle.

"One of my proudest moments was meeting Mandela on one of his many trips to London. In true, humble style his first words were to thank UNISON for the work we had done over the decades and, more crucially, the campaigning we are still doing to build a strong, fair and peaceful South Africa.

"As we send our condolences to the people of South Africa, UNISON pledges to continue our crucial work with our sisters unions in their continued battle for social justice and through our pioneering joint educational projects against HIV/Aids."

UNISON working internationally

For information on vigils taking place check UNISON's international facebook page or UNISON international on twitter



This is outrageous.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, is derecognizing the organization's staff unions who represent 65,000 workers.

He will no longer negotiate with unions over issues like safety and security, welfare and conditions of service.

The people who work for the UN often risk their lives to do so. 

In the last decade, 555 staff have been attacked and 200 killed. 

They often work in dangerous and hostile locations.

The UN Staff unions are calling for support from trade unionists everywhere. 

They are demanding  that Ban Ki-moon respect labour rights at the UN. 

Please support the online campaign and spread the word - click here.

Thank you!

Eric Lee
Which campaigns have I missed?  Click here to find out.






UNISON is once again supporting the Take One Action! Film Festival which runs from 27th September until 12th October. Take One Action – Scotland’s global change film festival spotlights stories that connect us across the planet: from the Occupy movement to climate change, women’s global empowerment, fracking, international development and more. The full festival programme can be found at: . Although the festival is focussed on Edinburgh and Glasgow we are bringing screenings to Dundee and Inverness and in the spring of next year a selection of films from the festival will tour Scotland. Please circulate this email and the attached flier to your contacts.


UNISON is particularly involved in working on two films We Are Wisconsin and A Thirsty World.


We are Wisconsin click to watch trailer – focuses on the response of trade unions and community activists to the tearing up of public sector employment contracts by the Republican Governor of Wisconsin in 2011, culminating in the occupation of the State Capitol for 26 days and Democratic legislators absconding over the border in an attempt to stymie the attack. After each screening there will be a chance to hear from Brian Austin a serving Police Officer in Madison the capital of Wisconsin, a trade unionist and a leading figure in Cops for Labor! You can see the film at the following times.


Saturday 28 September 8pm Filmhouse Edinburgh 88 Lothian Road Edinburgh EH3 9BZ, 0131 228 2688


Sunday 29 September 5pm GFT Glasgow 12 Rose Street Glasgow G3 6RB 0141 332 6535


Monday 30 September 7pm The Steps Theatre Dundee The Steps Theatre, Central Library, Wellgate, Dundee DD1 1DB Free


Wednesday 2 October 7pm Spectrum Centre Inverness 1 Margaret Street Inverness IV1 1LS (tea/coffee/biscuits from 6.30pm)

01463 221842 Free


A Thirsty World click to watch trailer - Globally acclaimed master of aerial cinema, Yann Arthus Bertrand, revisits our incredible and fragile planet – this time foregrounding the wonders of the world’s fresh water sources and the ordinary heroes fighting to defend them. A European family of four consumes 140,000 litres of water every week. But it isn’t ours. It comes from other, often developing countries, that produce our coffee, jeans and cheap meat. There, water is often scarce and, in the face of climate change, increasingly a cause of conflict.


Sat 29 September 19:30: INTERACTIVE, BIKE-POWERED screening
Join us (and join in) under the stars as we pedal through the film at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Please bring warm clothing and a waterproof as rain cover is limited.

Fri 04 Oct 14:35: Filmhouse, 88 Lothian Road, Edinburgh EH3 9BZ
AUDIENCE Discussion
Screening followed by discussion with guests including Percy Patrick (SCIAF) and Nick Hepworth (Water Witness).

Sun 06 Oct 18:00 (Door open from 17:15) The Tall Ship at Riverside, 150, Pointhouse Place, Glasgow G3 8RS
Draw inspiration from the sight and the sound of Scotland’s own great river by joining us on the Clyde’s Tall Ship for a special screening of A Thirsty World in Glasgow, followed by discussion with Percy Patrick (SCIAF), Dave Watson (UNISON Scotland) and Jon Rathjen (HydroNation).

Doors and café bar open from 17:15

Tickets via links at foot of page:


Please help spread the word on the festival and the chance to see these excellent films and others. The films and the discussions that take place afterwards are a different way to engage members and potential members in issues that UNISON and our sister trade unions are campaigning on. As we build towards our autumn recruitment campaign our involvement in the festival can augment this by demonstrating that by being in UNISON you are part of a collective and the struggle for a more just and sustainable world.


Happy viewing,


Simon Macfarlane

Regional Organiser

14 West Campbell Street

Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel: 0141 342 2899

Fax: 0141 342 2835







An Audience With Denis Goldberg on Saturday 1st June 2013


ACTSA Scotland is arranging an event with Denis Goldberg on Saturday, 1st June, from 5pm - 8pm in the STUC's premises, 333, Woodlands Road, Glasgow G3 6NG, to which everyone interested is invited.
We are calling it "An Audience with Denis Goldberg", and the plan is to start with light refreshments from 5pm, and then have a period of questions to Denis from those attending, to which he will reply in his usual expansive, thoughtful and always informative style.  Those who have heard Denis before know that he is in his element in this kind of format.  Topics covered will depend on the questions - and on where Denis's train of thought takes him from those! - but will certainly cover a lot of issues current in the new South Africa as well as his own history and experiences in prison and in the wider struggle.
This main part of the meeting will probably begin at about 5.45pm and last about an hour and a half, with some time for informal conversation afterwards until the event finishes at about 8pm.
    There will be no admission charge, though a collection will be taken to cover costs and to make a contribution to Community HEART, the charity Denis founded to support projects in South Africa, and about which I am sure he will take the opportunity to speak passionately at some point in the evening.
    It would be really helpful to hear in advance from those thinking of coming, so we have some idea of numbers attending for the purposes both of catering and of seating arrangements. In case this message has been forwarded on to you and my e-mail address doesn't show in the header, it is

                                                                                                                            John Nelson  (ACTSA Scotland - Action for Southern Africa)

(For those who don't know of Denis, he was one of those arrested at Rivonia in 1963, tried along with Nelson Mandela, convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment. Since he was the wrong colour for Robben Island he spent 22 years in Pretoria Central Prison, where he continued the struggle in a different form. After his release in 1985 he worked in London for the ANC, and visited Scotland often, where he made countless friends and is still quite a frequent visitor despite his return to South Africa and his supposed "retiral".  He turned 80 last month, and is marking that with an extensive speaking tour of Germany and the U.K. in support of Community HEART and its sister organisation in Germany.  Apart from our "Audience" event on 1st June and the Community HEART fundraising dinner the previous evening he will also be visiting Armadale Academy again, for a second fundraising concert for Kronendal Music Academy, one of his current projects and passions, and also City of Glasgow College, which made him its first Global Scholar last year.  ACTSA Scotland has copies for sale of his autobiography "The Mission - a life for freedom in South Africa",  of a DVD of his life story, and of his Mandela/Tambo lecture at City of Glasgow College in 2011. Please enquire about these, or see them at the "Audience".)





Media release


Date:              Thursday 21 March 2013

Embargo:      00:01 hours Friday 22 March 2013


Support public water services as a human right for all on World Water Day

UNISON today marked World Water Day with a call for water to be a human right and not for sale.

The public services union used today, March 22, to urge support for a European Citizens Initiative (ECI) that states water and sanitation are essential public services for all.

UNISON is encouraging people in Scotland to sign the water ECI’s online petition demanding that the European Commission stops plans to liberalise water services.

Andy Nisbet, secretary of UNISON’s Scottish Water branch, said: “In Scotland we enjoy the benefits of Scottish Water being publicly owned, a policy which has very, very strong public support.

“Today on World Water Day I encourage everyone who believes water is a human right to sign the petition at .

“We are calling on the European Commission to legislate to implement the human right to water and sanitation as recognised by the United Nations, and promoting the provision of water and sanitation as essential public services for all citizens."

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis is a member of the organising committee of the ECI, which will be formally launched on 1st April.

Andy added: "The ECI is a new form of European action created by the Lisbon treaty.  It provides an opportunity to get the European Commission to listen to citizen views rather than just lobbyists in Brussels.

“Our petition has been the first to gather more than the required one million signatures, to submit the proposals as draft laws. This is a phenomenal achievement.

“But we want to have as many names as possible to deliver the message that water should not be privatised. Adding your name to this petition really can make a difference and you will be part of the historic first ECI to be launched.”




For information please contact:


Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, 07958 122 409

Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07876 566 978

Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 877000



Notes to editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland. As the largest trade union in the Scottish water industry, UNISON members are both providers and users of water in Scotland.

2. UNISON and the other UK public service unions are members of one of the ECI’s supporting organisations – the European Federation of Public Services Unions, and the whole union movement supports it through ETUC. 

3. The petition is




Hugo Chavez is mourned in Scotland as well as Venezuela


People in Scotland with a commitment to social justice will mourn the death of Hugo Chavez. He was a great leader for the people of Venezuela, with a practical commitment to improving the lives of its people and in particular the millions who had been left to a life of poverty by previous regimes. The sheer scope of the imaginative programmes he led forward is extraordinary - for universal healthcare, literacy, food soverignty, land reform, electoral democracy, environmental protection, racial and gender equality, the rights of indigenous people and industrial democracy, for example.


To carry these forward he had to confront the malign influence which the USA had extended over the entire continent of South America and had instead forged an alliance for progress with neighbouring countries. No wonder this brought upon him the opprobrium of the USA government and its allies in this country. Instead of listening to the untruths they tried to spread about him, increasing numbers of people in Scotland have been looking to Chavez and Latin America for lessons to apply to their own predicaments.


Some of these were heard at the Learning from Latin America conference we held last December in Glasgow, at which Sandra Whyte MSP told us, as an observer of the 2012 Presidential elections, of the impeccable organisation, the very impressive turnout, and above all the massive enthusiasm in Venezuela for the re-election of Hugo Chavez – sadly the last of the many elections which he won democratically in the teeth of a local and international media dominated by his enemies.


He was a great man and our thoughts and solidarity go out to his family and the people of Venezuela.


Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign


Further information:


Matthew Crighton


Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign

Tel: 07851 348426 (mobile)




UNISON International Seminar Gets Bigger and Better …


UNISON Scottish International kicked off with trade union themes of ‘Culture Struggle and Solidarity’, at the STUC Building on Saturday 15th September 2012. The purpose of the seminar was to build awareness of UNISON’s International work and to explore some key international issues facing trade unions. The seminar programme offered a mix of speeches and presentations. The seminar was successful as those who attended, mostly members of the Scottish International Committee and branch International Officers from all over Scotland, active.


Chairing the session Sam Macartney, welcomed everybody to the Scottish International Seminar, and briefed about the speakers covering Cuba, Venezuela, Palestine, Kurdish Turkey, Burma, and Greece. He also expressed his pleasure to have Pat Kelly a former colleague and author of a wonderful book, “Scotland’s Radical Exports”.




Take One Action: The speaker from Take One Action informed the audience that this year at Edinburgh and Glasgow Festival the focus will be on UNISON’s two key Films – Sister & We’re Not Broke.


While providing an over view about the work of his organisation, he mentioned that since 2008, it has have engaged more than 15,000 people with hundreds of world-class films, showcasing inspiring stories that comment on issues of global concern. He said: “We are a charity, and our charitable purposes are empowering communities, fostering global citizenship and mitigating international poverty through the organisation of innovative cinema events… alongside related resources, talks and workshop programmes. And we are happy to come to you to show our films, if asked.”


Pat Kelly: Pat Kelly the Author of a book Scotland’s Radical Exports presented fascinating research based testimony about the Scots Abroad – How they Shaped Politics & Trade Unions, out with Scotland. The book is a must read item for all past, present and future Scottish trade unionist. Pat’s book proved a hit, and all copies were sold out with in no time.

Luis Marron, of the Cuban Friendship Institute spoke about – Cuba’s Miami 5 and how the collective voice of the British trade union movement has helped and must continue to build awareness of the unjust and unfair detention of the Miami 5. He defined Solidarity as something one trade union can give to a sister trade union, which the receiving trade union do not have. He urged upon the Scottish delegates that they have the voice, and in solidarity, they must raise their voice, to influence politicians, and talk to sister trade unions in USA, Canada to build awareness about the Miami 5 Campaign.


Frieda Park of the Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign spoke about the forth coming election on 7th October in Venezuela. She explained why it is important to keep building on the success of democracy in Venezuela. She said: “The Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign seeks to build the widest possible support for social gains and progressive change taking place in Venezuela, and seek to build resistance against external intervention in its affairs.” She informed the delegates, that they can get involved bybecoming an individual member or by affiliating your union branch or organisation, and making a donation to cover the costs of our campaign.


Terri McLaughlin, a UNISON Nurse and Shop Steward, presented her report about Welcome to Palestine Initiative. She said: Welcome to PalestineInitiative aims to highlight Israel’s cruel and brutal siege of the West Bank, and provided in depth analysis of the complicity of Western governments and of corporations, that is helping Israel to maintain the siege. Terri was detained in Israel whilst participating in the 2012 Welcome to Palestine initiative


Prof Mary Davis former Head of Centre for Trade Union Studies, on her return from the Kurdish area of Turkey presented her analysis about plight of the Kurdish people – literally scattered in more than one country. She said: “the majority of Kurds live in the East of Turkey, and yet face difficulties and abuse of their basic human rights”. UNISON’s Scottish Deputy Convenor Stephen Smellie gave a description of his observations about the suffering of Turkish Kurds. Stephen had been to Turkey, to observe and listen to the Kurdish trade union members, during elections in Turkey.


Katy Clark MP from North Ayrshire and Arran, provided a report that concluded, Austerity in Greece is not working, and delegates attending the seminar agreed with her conclusion.


Allison Cosgrove, Vice Chair of the Scottish International Committee, briefed the delegates about her recent visit to Burma with a UNISON delegation. In her brief she highlighted that despite the current changes in Burma, the position of trade unionists remains very precarious. She said:” We are seeking to help the Federation of Trade Unions Kawthoolei (FTUK), to fund the cost of employing Karen activists to develop their office on Thai – Burma border.

Allison asked the delegates to encourage their branches, to sign UK – Burma Trade Union Solidarity Network’s donation / standing order form, so that all donated funds could go toward helping sister trade unions in Burma. She also informed that trade union such as NASUWT, UCU, UNISON and FTUK together form the UK – Burma Trade Union Solidarity Network.


The Seminar ended with a visit from Aleida Guevara (Yes Chi Guevara’s daughter), she had been speaking to a packed audience at the STUC the night before. All delegates were unanimous in saying that Scottish International Seminar is getting bigger and better, every year.


The Chair Sam Macartney concluded the seminar with his remarks that it was a great seminar, excellent speakers and turn out was great too. He thanked everyone who attended.