South Africa 2004 - A decade of freedom…
the decade ahead
Jean-Anne Goodbrand and John Barton of the
International committee Report from a major conference organised
by the South African High Commission in advance of the 10th
Anniversary of the end of apartheid and free elections.
Around 2,000 delegates attended this conference,
organised by the South African High Commission, celebrating
ten years of freedom for South Africa, the rainbow nation.
The weekend marked the first decade of freedom highlighting
the accomplishments achieved and marking the problems still
requiring solutions. John Barton and myself represented the
Scottish International Committee.
Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (Foreign
Affairs) remarked on the support from the UK of the 1959 boycott
of South African products, now South Africa is asking for
the UK to open markets. Tourists who were asked not to travel
to South Africa are now being encouraged to see the new South
Africa. Sport was boycotted; South Africa hosted the last
Rugby World Cup. Pension campaigns seeking disinvestment in
South Africa, now companies persuaded to invest.
Paul Boateng, Chief Secretary to the UK Treasury
remembered taking part in Anti-Apartheid demonstrations in
Trafalgar Square and the strong ties forged between the UK
and South Africa in good times and bad. Witnessing the transition
of South Africa from a global pariah to a respected beacon
amongst nations. A strong South Africa is an invaluable resource
of the whole continent of Africa. The global challenge of
the HIV AIDS pandemic with 4 people dying every minute.
President Thabo Mbeki broadcast a pre-recorded
video to the conference outlining South Africa as a society
of the 1st and 3rd world.
Minister Alec Erwin, Trade & Industry
pointed out that whilst South Africa is short of natural fibres,
they are working with Mozambique and Zimbabwe to grow cotton.
ESCOM is the third largest utility company in the World, yet
only 20% of Africa have access to electricity. Fruit Salad
prepared in South Africa including mangoes from Ghana is flown
into the UK and on the supermarket shelves the next morning.
We are all citizens of the world and should conduct ourselves
as human beings, not trading commodities.
Events planned in Scotland in 2004
A meeting of Scottish delegates took place
to discuss events being organised to mark the 10th
anniversary of the South African elections in April 2004.
There will be Writers' conference in Edinburgh and Glasgow;
the Church of Scotland is marking South African Freedom day
in April. The Edinburgh Festival, Blues, Jazz and Film Festivals,
Christmas Markets and Hogmanay events next year will have
a South African slant. A Scottish organising Committee is
planned; further details are available from Brian Filling,
Chair or John Nelson, ACTSA Scotland, 55 St Enoch's Square,
Trade Union Workshop
The Labour movement in South Africa and the
UK played a pivotal role in the fight against apartheid and
many strong links exist today. Unfortunately there were no
South African Trade Unionists at the workshop to strengthen
More GATSly goings on
In the last newsletter we wrote about the
threat to public services of the World Trade Organisation's
negotiations on a new agreement called General Agreement on
Trade in Services.
GATs was a major theme of the UNISON Branch
International Officers Seminar held in Newcastle on 31 October
t0 2 November 2003. The seminar was able to hear from Mike
Waghorne, Assistant General Secretary of the Public Services
International. PSI is the international federation of public
service trade unions and we are a major affiliate.
PSI have been spearheading much of the work
around GATs on behalf of public service trade unions. GATs
threatens public services across the globe by placing pressures
on governments to open them up to being traded.
The effects on developing countries and developed
ones will be different but significant to each. Mike outlined
the 5 main concerns to public sector and education trade unions
threats to the security of existing public
the needs of developing countries wanting
to develop public services; the potential undermining
of governments' ability to regulate with certainty, especially
in the area of public services standards;
the mobility of labour;
the need for there to be a full assessment
of GATS before negotiations proceed.
Mike's presentation to the seminar was excellent
and included much background to the recent meeting of the
WTO and the emerging threats of the so called ‘Singapore issues'
which are: a multilateral investment agreement; an agreement
on competition policy; an agreement on transparency in government
procurement; and a trade facilitation agreement.
All this can seem very dry but these agreements
could fundamentally alter the way in which public services
are run across the globe and move much further down the road
of becoming just another commodity rather than the fabric
of a decent, humane and democratic society. That is the challenge
facing us all. See the website list for some relevant links.
Mike Waghorne's presentation is available
in hard copy by contacting Simon Macfarlane.
UNISON launch Urgent Action Email
"Sacked for Joining a trade union";
"sacked for getting pregnant; "imprisoned for trade
union activity"; Disappeared for defending public services".
These are just some of the headlines about the repression
of trade union and human rights from around the world. Everyday
somewhere, including Britain, trade union rights are being
violated. But there are things you can do.
UNISON's International Department has launched
an Urgent Action Email Network for members who want to know
about and respond to trade union rights abuses around the
world as and when they happen. So next time you can respond
and help make a difference.
To join the network please email Polly Jones
and tell her you want to join.
UNISON Scotland pledges solidarity
with Colombian trade Unionists
At December's Scottish Council a motion moved
by the International Committee's Alison Cosgrove on behalf
of her Branch highlighted the horrendous conditions for trade
unionists in Columbia.
One practical way UNISON members can support
trade unionists in Columbia is to boycott Coca-Cola and write
to them and tell them why. The Colombian Solidarity Campaign
to whom UNISON is affiliated has launched the boycott campaign
The International Boycott of Coca-Cola started
on the 22 July 2003. It was called by SINALTRAINAL (Colombian
Food and Drinks Workers' Union). It is supported by the World
Social Forum, and by the CUT and the CGTD (principle trade
union federations in Colombia), and numerous social organisations
around the world.
Coca-Cola stands accused of complicity in
the assassination of 8 Sinaltrainal trade union leaders in
Colombia since 1990. Many other leaders have been imprisoned,
tortured, forcibly displaced and exiled. Of course, Coca-Cola
deny any responsibility for the murders, pointing out that
100s of union leaders are killed every year in Colombia. However,
many of Sinaltrainal's victims were killed inside Coca-Cola
plants while negotiating collective agreements. Coca-Cola
management were reported in the national press as meeting
and contracting members of the AUC death squads to "sort
out their labour problems".
So why the boycott? Sinaltrainal have exhausted
all the legal avenues in Colombia, where their applications
to the courts have been manipulated and rejected. However,
in the USA, in a court case brought in solidarity with Sinaltrainal
by the United Steel Workers Union, a judge has ruled that
there is enough evidence for a case to continue against Coca-Cola's
Colombian subsidiaries. However, the multinational refuses
to cooperate with the union, and the violent repression continues.
Coca-Cola are also suing the union for libel. The boycott
and international campaign are powerful but dangerous weapons,
the workers in Colombia know that they will bear the brunt
of the repression for highlighting these facts. They deserve
"We ask Coca Cola to stop killing,
and you to stop drinking Coke"
Carlos Julia, Sinaltrainal
War on Want are also campaigning on Columbia
and have launched a postcard campaign. If you can get some
of these filled in please contact Simon Macfarlane.
Oxfam Scotland brief UNISON on campaigns
Simon Macfarlane attended an Oxfam in Scotland
campaigns briefing in January, where Oxfam's campaigns team
outlined the issues behind their three ongoing campaigns:
The Make Trade Fair campaign which is
calling on governments, institutions and multinational
companies to change the rules so that trade can become
part of the solution to poverty, not part of the problem.
This was a very positive meeting and there are
many areas of common interest to UNISON and Oxfam, our concerns
over the General Agreement on Trade in Services are mirrored
well in Oxfam's Make Trade Fair Campaign. Similarly our leading
role in the anti war movement is in line with the Arms Control
Oxfam in Scotland Campaigns Manager, Angela
" Oxfam was delighted to meet with
representatives from UNISON to explain in greater depth our
campaigns which are focused on changing the factors currently
causing poverty throughout the world.
" There is considerable cross-over
between the beliefs and policies of UNISON and those of Oxfam
and hopefully this meeting will herald a closer working relationship
that will be mutually beneficial.
" Throughout the world Oxfam's ethos
is of working with partners to reduce poverty and suffering
and that philosophy is as important in Scotland as elsewhere."
Anyone who wants to become a campaigner with
Oxfam should phone 0845 900 5678.
Each newsletter lists some up and coming
events and action points that members can get involved in.
1) Challenging Racism
Informed choices: Positive opportunities
is a conference on challenging racism within social work,
education and care services in Scotland on Tuesday 10th February
2004, 9.30am to 3.00pm in the Exhibition Hall, Royal Concert
Organised by the black voluntary sector in
Scotland, supported by the West of Scotland Voluntary Agencies
Forum, the Scottish Social Services Council and Glasgow City
Council. A national conference to influence change, to promote
access to social care and social work, education and careers
for people from black and minority ethnic communities. The
conference is aimed at young people, adult learners, employers,
educators and policy makers. For more info contact: Vanessa
Glenday, SSSC, Compass House, 11 Riverside Drive, Dundee DD1
4NY t: 01382 207 101. email: email@example.com
2) Time to get your dancing shoes
Scottish Friends of Palestine are holding
their second annual Ceilidh on Saturday 28th February
from 8pm until midnight at St. Andrews in the Square Merchant
For £10/£5 you will get hooking and chooking
from the Cloud Howe Ceilidh Band, Palestinian Snacks, the
chance to enter a raffle and listen to a very short speech!!
from former Lord Provost of Glasgow Alex Mosson.
For tickets contact David Walls on (0141)
334 1757 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org
SFoP also have a great range of enamel solidarity
badges, contact email@example.com
or Simon Macfarlane
Every newsletter will contain a list of websites
relevant to themes picked up in the newsletter.
(our own website on GATS)
Full report of conference organised by High Commission.
Action for Southern Africa, formerly Anti Apartheid Campaign.
The Scottish site.
The national organisation we are affiliated to.
http://www.waronwant.org/ Campaign on Columbia
and on many other issue of concern to trade unionists.
Palestine Solidarity campaign, lead the BIG Boycott Israeli
Just for Jean-Anne Goodbrand (and important info on human
rights abuses in Burma).
Last but not least
the Committee's own website which has more info on the Palestine
Seminar and minutes of the last of meeting.
Simon Macfarlane, Secretary to the International
Committee, UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow
G2 6RX (0870) 7777 006 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wilma Kennedy, Secretary UNISON same details
Please let us know if you want added to our
email list to receive International information or if you
are a Branch International Officer we don't have a note of.