UNISON Scotland
Scotland's public service union



You can do it for Salud!

Salud International is a name familiar to UNISON branches for its work in getting humanitarian aid to Cuba. Now it has spread its wings as a non-governmental agency to enable trade unionists to provide the same aid throughout the developing world.

A fringe meeting at the STUC encouraged more Scottish trade unionists to become involved in its work, reports Jane Carolan.

Salud has no full time workers but an army of volunteers committed to helping overcome the effects of the blockade which has starved Cuba of health and public service facilities.

Andy Gilchrist, General Secretary of the Fire Brigade Union, emphasised that the Cuban people saw such work as a gesture of international solidarity and were determined that they would remain in charge of their own destiny.

"In Cuba last year, four days after a hurricane hit I was privileged to assist in the area. Public services had been restored, with power and water on supply. After only four days that was a remarkable achievement, made possible by the united efforts, working together in adversity”, said Andy.

He urged Scottish trade unionists to get involved in the aid campaign.

Bob Oram of Salud outlined how a campaign that started with a request to supply a single bus had grown into an effort that shipped 1,000 tons of aid on its first ship, an effort repeated during 2001 and soon to be repeated again.

Bob emphasised that Salud was committed to appropriate aid based on the recipients telling the campaign that was needed. Requests have come for everything from buses and ambulances to medical equipment, paper and pencils and even a wedding dress!

"Salud has attracted support from NHS trusts, government departments, companies and even the Royal Family”, said Bob. "But our lifeblood is in the commitment of ordinary trade unionists raising money which allows us to continue our work. It's practical politics.

"By collecting pennies and pounds, any branch can buy its ambulance and have its logo on it. It's a peculiar feeling being in Havana and seeing a Manchester ambulance go by. But a good feeling.”

SALUD currently has 35 ambulances ready to be shipped. To make transport viable they need 50 so assistance to buy the rest is vital.



Can you help?

Anyone willing to help should contact
Jane Carolan
45a Marywood Square, Glasgow

or submit this form online:


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