Packed Cuba meeting wins support from Trade Unionists

Campaign News | Wednesday, 15 September 2010

TUC delegates support Cuba

There was standing room only at the Cuba Solidarity Campaign fringe at the TUC in Manchester this week.

The leader of Britain’s 6 million plus trade unionists Brendan Barber opened the event by talking of his pride at being the first TUC General Secretary to visit the May Day celebrations in Havana. He re-iterated his support for the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and spoke of his address to its AGM this June.

Brendan highlighted the TUC priority of working with the Cuba Solidarity Campaign to end the illegal US blockade and encourage the UK government to normalise relationships with Cuba. He reiterated his strong support for justice for the Miami Five and their families.

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary, said that Cuba must be given the right to determine its own destiny, free from the shackles of the illegal US blockade. Counterposing the Cuban values with those in the USA he praised a system that values “not plasma TVs, but heart monitors” and ensures its people have health, education, jobs and all the basic human rights that so many people in this world are denied. The Cuban people alone can determine their future and that solidarity objective must be the aim of all trade unions in this country.

Anita Halpin on behalf of the National Union of Journalists praised the marvellous work of the Federation of Cuban Women who last week issued a statement on behalf of the Miami Five and have been integral to every achievement of the revolution.

Tony Woodley, Joint General Secretary of Unite the Union, spoke of his recent visit to the US to meet one of the Five - Gerardo Hernandez, and all the efforts that people have taken on behalf of the Five. After meetings with world leaders, it is “beyond belief and an insult to humanity” that there has been no movement on their imprisonment. For the first time there have been joint representations with US unions and their leaders did meet with the families of the Five when in Cuba. Tony spoke of his personal hope that some movement will take place soon but regardless of whatever does happen, all of us in the movement must not slacken our efforts on behalf of the Five brave men and their families.

Luis Marron Political Counsellor at the Cuban Embassy thanked all the unions and the TUC for their solidarity and support. He said the revolution is alive, healthy and moving forward. Referring to the recent interview on the Cuban economy he explained how Fidel was misquoted and re-iterated that the socialist system is the only system for Cuba. Even after fifty years of attacks, he clarified that the banks are still owned by the people in Cuba and money in Cuba will always be used to rescue people and not the banks. Cuba’s priority in the world is the right to independence, to self determination and whatever happens in Cuba must be decided, not by outsiders, but the Cuban people. He called for an end to the illegal US blockade, for the release of the Miami Five and for an end to the European Unions ‘common position’ on Cuba.

Stephen Cavalier Chief Executive of the trade union law firm Thompsons, highlighted the many years of practical solidarity that Thompsons have been involved in with in Cuba and the Campaign. “Why would a UK law firm be involved with Cuba” he asked - “international solidarity, human rights and justice, as well as compassion and humanity” before reminding delegates that when people say there is no alternative - Cuba proves another world is possible. Its commitment to public services and its record in international solidarity is an inspiration to everyone in the movement.

Keith Sonnet Chair of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign concluded the meeting and reminded delegates of the vigil for the Miami Five on Tuesday 19th October outside the US embassy in London at 6.00pm.

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