Branch International Officer
The Branch International Officer
post exists to foster and maintain links with
trade unionists around the world, most particularly
recently in Palestine, Cuba, Nicaragua and South
Africa, although there have been formal links
in the past with Sweden and Canada.
The post is designed to exchange
information and ideas, to learn from each other
and to provide assistance where possible. It
is also there to advise the branch on international
Support for New York
colleagues and continued calls for peace
In the year of the attack on the
World Trade Centre and then the war in Afghanistan,
all members must have been more conscious than
usual of international issues. (see
We live in a world in which events
far away can rapidly have a direct impact on
our lives. The branch responded instantly to
the events of 11 September by giving support
to union branches in New York and at the same
time warning that there should not be a response
based on revenge - this would lower the USA
and allies to the same moral level as the attackers
and make the world more dangerous in the long
Sadly such voices were not heeded
and the Branch Committee expressed its deep
concern about the bombing of Afghanistan and
gave organisational and financial support to
the conference 'Not in Our Name' on December
A number of other international
issues have received our attention. We supported
local actions on Third World debt. We supported
and attended a conference on Palestine which
drew the links between the Palestinians struggle
against Israeli occupation of their land and
the fight against apartheid in South Africa.
I have sought to draw attention
to the General Agreement on Trade in Services
(GATS), a proposed international treaty which
could oblige governments to pursue privatisation
of certain public services. We have supported
activities of the World Development Movement
on this and are seeking to raise it with our
There had been no-one in this
post in the previous year so these activities
have been build up from a standing start, with
assistance from one or two other branch members.
One of the things which I would like to do is
to build up a larger network of members in the
branch who are active on issues of international
solidarity or aid. There is a lot we could do
so if interested please contact me (if are-elected)
via the Branch Office.
International Relations Officer
Cuban trade unionists
Edinburgh UNISON welcomed two
Cuban trade unionists on a visit to the city
in the person of Armando Plaza Olazabal and
William Rodriguez Arias from the Cuban TUC's
Plaza and William were welcomed
to Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh during their
They told of the terrible devastation
caused by the recent hurricane and the problems
caused by the U.S boycott. William, a computer
enthusiast, went home with surplus equipment
from the Edinburgh branch.
As part of their visit, the branch
arranged a lunch, a visit to the People's Story
museum and a lively and informative tour of
the City Chambers by UNISON member - and Edinburgh
history expert - John Wilson.
Then there was time for a couple
of hours exchange of information about trade
unionism here and in Cuba.
Message of thanks from Cuban
Edinburgh UNISON's Lyn Williams
has brought a thankyou message from CTC (SNTECD)
colleagues in Cuba's Holguin province, following
her recent "school twinning" visit.
The branch had sent a commemorative
paperweight and Drummond High School had sent
a plaque to commemorate their twinning arrangement.
Much needed supplies were also provided.
The Cuban union sent a miniature
tea set as a return gift to the UNISON branch
and it will be greatly treasured. The message
from our Cuban colleagues reads:
"Esteemed workers of UNISON.
Many thanks for your gift which is so very kind
We send you our most sincere greetings
from the CTC Holguin Cuba."