Brendan Barber pledges TUC support for Cuba

Autumn 2005

Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC speaking at the CSC fringe meeting, TUC Congress 2005

When Pedro Ross’s visited Congress for the first time last year, he was received with enormous warmth and affection, and I believe it was a huge step forward in deepening relationships between the trade union movement here and with our Cuban brothers and sisters.

A number of things have happened since then...

We’ve taken the case against the US blockade right to the heart of the wider international trade union movement. At the ICFTU Congress in Japan, in December 2004, we won support for a clear and decisive change in the ICFTU position, to stand foursquare, unambiguously, absolutely opposed to the blockade without equivocation. And that was a real step forward in the international trade union movement’s position.

We worked too, jointly with the Campaign to try and deepen relationships and links with trade union organisations here and counterparts in Cuba. We were delighted to work on the Unions for Cuba conference in November which has led to whole new deepening relationships and networks which will stand our wider relationships in good stead for the period ahead.

And looking to the future, we want to take that work to a further level. Not just in terms of the British trade union movement, but in the European trade union movement too, where there is still work to be done to deepen the understanding of the position faced by our brothers and sisters in Cuba, and the pressures that result from the blockade.

So, jointly with the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, we are planning an event in February that will really look to deepen those links with our European colleagues. We’ll be working with the ETUC and others around the European trade union movement to encourage as many organisations as possible to join with us in that conference to really strengthen these relationships.

I believe the thinking in the British trade union movement has changed. The awareness of the issues behind the pressures on our colleagues in Cuba has very much deepened in the recent period and I’ve been pleased that the TUC has been able to play a part in that. Certainly for the TUC I’ll be looking to see ways in which, with our own direct contact, we can really strengthen those links.

It’s clear there’s an enormous amount of work to be done, but I think things have moved in an enormously positive way and lets keep on taking that work forward until we really deliver results that the Cuban people need.

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