tragedy on 11 September took a massive toll on UNISON
members' counterparts in the USA. Reports at 15 September
had 1,000 union members still unaccounted for.
But the horror is not over for emergency
services, city, state, government and health workers
who toil on in the rescue and clean-up effort.Thousands
of members volunteered through their unions and
many have been injured and traumatised.
"Public Service workers at
the forefront of the effort to deal with the tragedy
have themselves become victims. Our thoughts are
with them”, said Mike Kirby, UNISONScotland Convenor.
And nowhere is this loss more evident
than in the words of Harold A Shaitberger, General
President of the International Association of Firefighters
"At this point we cannot calculate
the enormous loss of life. (This) will undoubtedly
be the worst day for line-of-duty deaths in the
83 year history of the IAFF”.
Unions in New York and Washington
have played a key role in co-ordinating the effort,
in supporting each other and in providing aid and
comfort for victims and their families.
"We mourn those who perished
as they performed their work, whether in rescue
efforts, in offices or on airplanes”, said John
Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO union federation.
"Already union members have gone into action
to assist the rescue efforts”.
District Council 37, part of the
American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees (AFSCME), represents 56 ‘locals' covering
all sectors of New York City employees. It had to
close its offices in Barclay Street close to the
World Trade Centre, and set up an emergency base.
"Many of our members are overcoming
their shock and disbelief to provide heroic, round-the-clock
emergency, health care and support services”, said
Lee Sanders, DC37 Administrator.
Danny Donohoe, Civil Service Employees
Association (CSEA) President said, "It is likely
that CSEA lost brothers and sisters working in the
World Trade Center. Our hearts and prayers go out
to all the victims and their families.
"Many CSEA members are already
assisting, directly and indirectly, in the aftermath
of this horrific tragedy. CSEA is encouraging all
of its members to donate blood and volunteer to
help in other ways”.
Amidst the horror and anger, Andrew
L Stern of the Service Employees International Union
(SEIU) called for ‘American values' and warned against
any backlash attacks on Arab-Americans or ‘other
innocent people based on the color of their skin
or the country they originally come from'.
"Just as we are a nation of
immigrants, we are a union of immigrants, with members
from all countries of the Middle East as well as
all other continents. This is a time to make an
extra effort in our workplaces and in our communities
to reach out to each other and show the world that
in times of crisis we unite behind our ideals”,
And he lashed extreme right wingers
Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson ‘who said on television
that feminists, civil liberties organizations, Americans
who believe in a woman's right to choose about abortion,
and gays and lesbians invited the terrorist attacks
on this country by making God mad.'
"America cannot fight hatemongers
and religious intolerance by becoming hateful and
intolerant ourselves. The best way we can honour
the victims of the attacks of September 11 is to
stand up for the basic values America has always
aspired to”, said Mr Stern.