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International Committee  




   17 December 2015

Simple Minds - Qatar

Open letter from Sam Macartney, chair of UNISON Scotland International Committee to Scottish band Simple Minds

Dear Simple Minds


I write to you in my capacity as the Chairperson of UNISON Scotland’s International Committee and also as a lifelong fan.

I am originally from the north of Ireland and your song Belfast Child still brings a tear to my eye, your song brought hope to thousands of my country folk.

I mention your songs and music because you have a very unique gift and in the past you have influenced millions of souls with your commitment and support for the helpless and oppressed of this world, your stance on apartheid in South Africa, your support for the campaigns against human rights abuse in Sri Lanka and other countries worldwide is well documented and is a massive credit to you and your music.

Please keep up your commitment on human rights issues worldwide, and on behalf of my trade union I would urge you to speak out against the human rights abuse that is taking place in Qatar, a country where modern slavery is used to exploit migrant workers from many countries, where many thousands of workers have died already and where many thousands more could possibly die on building projects leading up to the World Cup in 2022 (health and safety is optional).  In Qatar workers cannot leave the country to visit friends and relatives without their employers or State’s permission, segregation in the capital Doha is widespread and migrant workers are paid according to their race not their worth!

Simple Minds as a band have supported Amnesty International for many years and to your credit you have used your voice to support migrant workers and the oppressed.  Please take a stance and speak out for migrant workers in Qatar. You can post a message of support via www.playfairqatar.org.uk.

Yours sincerely



Scotland welcomes refugees

A message from chair and secretary of UNISON Scotland International Committee

Hello Colleagues

Autumn 2015 newsletter

17 November 2015: As a plane of Syrian refugees is about to land in Glasgow today Sam Macartney, Chair of the International Committee and I wanted to tell you about what members of the International Committee heard from Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing on Saturday.

Robina advised us of the links her organisation had made with the Kempson family who live on the island of Lesvos in Greece where a huge proportion of the refuges trying to reach mainland Europe arrive first. The Kempson family have found themselves on the fronyt line of helping thjousands of refugees and PAIH  are supporting them in challenging the large aid agencies over the inadequacy of their action so far on Lesvos. Robina was able to tell us on Saturday this action is beginning to have some impact on the NGOs. The plight of refugees is stark and we were reminded how many perish in the attempt to reach safety.

PAIH have set up schemes whereby individuals can register to house refugees; volunteer to assist and donate money that is guaranteed to get to the front line.

The videos we saw contain some harrowing images and testimony but  clearly illustrate the issues refuges face and the need to support practical assistance on the ground.

We, Scotland, Britain and NGOs can all do more. We wanted to write to you today to say that if your Branch does want to do some work on the refugee issue we would ask you to consider hooking up with PAIH. Your branch may also want to affiliate to PAIH.

If you want to see the videos we’ve posted links below.

Thanks for your time,

Simon Macfarlane & Sam Macartney




Autumn Newsletter 2015
Newsletter Autumn 2015 (pdf)

Published 17 November 2015

Glenrothes to London - How are our pensions invested?
To ensure success for the BDS movement (boycott disinvestment sanctions) against Israel; Sam Macartney urged trade unions and civil rights groups to find out where our pensions are being invested.

UNISON Joint International Seminar, Newcastle Upon Tyne
A report by Tony Caleary / Hamid Rasheed

TTIP Commission Recognises ISDS is Fundamentally Flawed!

Bus to Paris, for 12 December demonstration on UN Climate Change Talks


UK unions must stand with their Turkish and Kurdish brothers and sisters at this time 12 October 2015


Summer Newsletter 2015
Newsletter Summer 2015 (pdf)

Published 26 March 2015

Scottish International Committee Calls for Action against Pensions fund investments into Israeli Arms Trade
Report by Sam Macartney & Mick Napier

Help re-build the Kobane Health Sector

Scotland Against TTIP
Report by Allison Cosgrove and Sam MaCartney

UNISON International Seminar report

Swaziland: Attacks on trade unionists intensify

SIC Sets Focus on Playfair Qatar Campaign

Shifting Ground: the fightback against corporate power in Scotland and the world
Global Justice is organising an event on June 13 in Glasgow.


Scotland v Qatar game - SFA must challenge Qatar on workers rights
Thu 4 June 2015
From Simon McFarlane, secretary UNISON Scotland International Committee:

As you will have seen the FIFA story is continuing to grow and run. We need to ensure everything possible is done to keep focus on labour rights in Qatar. There is a lot of activity around the Scotland v Qatar game tomorrow (Friday 5 June) in Edinburgh. The SFA have so far done little to challenge Qatar on workers’ rights (over 1,400 deaths and the Kafala system – all power lies with employer including whether you can leave).

If you can get to Edinburgh on Friday 5 June and join the campaigning activities, please do so, details below. If you can’t please support the campaign in other ways. One simple thing you can do is print off an A4 message from the Playfair Qatar site and post a selfie of yourself holding it up (ideally with a football top on) , see: http://playfairqatar.org.uk/#section-fans-photos and http://playfairqatar.org.uk/scotland-v-qatar-june-5-2015/ .

There’s a Facebook page for the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/1639123382985614/

Please tweet a message with the hashtags #reclaimthegame #playfairqatar

Details for rendezvous on Friday 5 June:

4.00 pm – meet at the Artisan Bar, 35-36 London Road, Abbeyhill, EH7 5BQ

between 4.00 and 5.00 – leafleting bars, cafes, restaurants close to the ground – London Rd, Easter Rd, Leith Walk, Duke St etc

5.00 – 5.30 – meet at Leith Dockers’ Club, 17 Academy Street, EH6 7EE for “Playfair Qatar” photo opportunity (campaign signs will be available)

7.00 – leafleting outside West stand

7.45 – the Dockers’ Club will be screening the game for anyone not attending – at the very least, it will give you a chance to look out for any Playfair Qatar signs that make it into the stadium!

MSP e-briefing: TTIP PDF Apr 2015
28 April 2015

UNISON Scotland urges the Scottish Parliament to oppose TTIP in its entirety.

Spring Newsletter 2015
Newsletter Spring 2015 (pdf)

Published 26 March 2015

UNISON Marks 30th Anniversary of Bhopal Disaster...
Report by Tony Caleary UNISON Stirling Branch

Save Kobane: Update on the Plight of Kurdish Refugees …
Stephen Smellie of South Lanarkshire Branch Reports

Take One Action
UNISON has been working with Take One Action Film festivals. Entertaining films are a great way of engaging people in an issue, opening up discussion and mobilising people to get in-volved and take action. That is what Take One Action is all about.

Scotland against TTIP

Scotland Against TTIP Campaign launch
24 March 2015

Public meeting to launch the Scotland against TTIP Campaign
Renfield St Stephen’s Church, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow from 11.00 am to 2.00 pm on Saturday, 11 April 2015

UNISON Scotland is a founding member of the Scotland against TTIP Campaign.

TTIP is a proposed trade treaty between the US and EUROPE, which is being negotiated - in secret - in Brussels at the moment.

UNISON is opposed to this treaty in its entirety as we believe that along with well publicised threats to the NHS, it will also threaten jobs, workers’ rights, other public services, environmental standards, etc.

There is a particular clause, called the Investor State Dispute Settlement which provides for global corporations, such as tobacco companies, private health companies, etc. to sue individual countries who pass any legislation which could be deemed to affect their profits.

For example, Philip Morris, a US tobacco company, is currently suing the Australian Government over laws they have introduced to restrict smoking, as obviously if large numbers of people stop smoking, their profits are affected.

UNISON UK - TTIP campaign updates
24 March 2015

> New TTIP pages on UNISON UK website

? TTIP, CETA and TISA – what you need to know about EU trade agreements
A UNISON briefing March 2015

LexisNexis: TTIP-ing point - Employment (pdf)

Commercial analysis: The ongoing US and EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations set out to reduce the regulatory barriers to trade for businesses. Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and chair of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University New York, and Diane Anderson of the bargaining and campaigns team at UNISON Scotland, assess TTIP's implications for jobs and employment.

This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Commercial on 6 March 2015

Support for Bhopal - Reports on a UNISON Scotland delegation to mark the 30th anniversary of the disaster in December and build support for justice for the people of Bhopal.

3 Dec 2014


UNISON sponsored films and audience discussions - join in!

Take One Action film festival 2014

Scottish Committee - Europe Report: August 2014

Call for Sainsbury's to end trade with companies complicit in occupation

UNISON Scotland's International Committee has written to Sainbury's urging the company to live up to its own ethical trading principles by ceasing trade with Israeli agricultural export companies which operate in illegal Israeli settlements and which profit from Israeli violations of international law. Click here for full details July 2014

Newsletter Spring 2014Scottish International Committee Newsletter
Spring 2014 (pdf)

Inspiring UNISON Scotland and North West 2013 international seminar - click here for story and photos: 22 September 2013

Newsletter August 2013
Newsletter August 2013 (pdf)

Scottish Committee - Europe Report: August 2013


Augsust Newsletter
Newsletter August 2012 (pdf)

International Newsletter
Newsletter April/May 2011 (pdf)

Israeli soldiers attack Jenin Freedom Theatre: Plans to set up Scottish Friends of Freedom Theatre.

BDS Campaign: Israeli Democracy and Human Rights In an open letter to The Herald newspaper, Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary, questions potential attacks on the human rights organisation, B'Tselem, which has been supported by UNISON.




  • Columbia
  • Gats
  • Fair Trade (Hadeel Fair Trade shop aims to provide a sustainable source of income for craftspeople working in community based groups in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon)
  • Famine in Southern Africa


The committee welcomes requests from branches, self organised groups and individuals who would like to know more about international matters and the role of UNISON.




International Committee
Chair & Vice Chair Secretary

Sam Macartney
W 0141 552 7069, m 07803952264.

Allison Cosgrove (vc)

Simon MacFarlane
0845 355 0845

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