Construction workers’ call for solidarity with Cuba

Campaign News | Thursday, 19 May 2016

Lewis Philipson, UCATT Shop Steward, speaking at the CSC fringe meeting

Lewis Philipson, UCATT Shop Steward, speaking at the CSC fringe meeting

UCATT 2016 Conference CSC Fringe Meeting Report

Construction workers’ called for solidarity with Cuba at this crucial time at an inspiring fringe meeting at the UCATT Conference in Scarborough.

Steve Cottingham, OH Parsons Consultant, gave an update into the developments in Cuba since December 17 2014, when Cuba and the United States began moving towards normalising relations. This was the first UCATT Conference, which takes place on a biennial basis, since the improvement US-Cuba relations.

There was much to be positive about, he said, including the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the US, improving relations with Britain and the EU, and the biggest reason to celebrate was the release of the remaining members of the Miami Five.

Steve urged delegates to support and attend the approaching Miami Five Freedom Tour, taking place this July, after a long campaign that fought for their release by UCATT and the British trade union movement.

However, he highlighted there is still much work to be done. The blockade remains in place with OFAC continuing to fine companies for trading with Cuba – which affects British companies and organisations, he said, citing the recent example of CSC having its Co-operative Bank accounts closed due to US blockade legislation, and February’s $140,000 fine to WATG Holdings, for failing to comply with U.S. sanctions of Cuba

Furthermore, Guantanamo Bay continues to be occupied, and the US continues to intervene in Cuba, he said.

Steve also warned that “progressive governments are under threat in Brazil and Venezuela - with huge consequences for the region”.

International solidarity with Cuba is crucial as part of the “Battle of ideas”, Cottingham said, “As Cuba does show how another world is possible”.

Lewis Philipson, UCATT Shop Steward, attended the CSC Young Trade Unionists’ brigade to Cuba in 2015. He spoke at the meeting about his experiences on the brigade.

“Going on the Young Trade Unionists' Brigade changed my life - it was inspirational. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I learned a lot about Cuba and the importance of international solidarity when I was there", he said.

“When you see first-hand the impact of the blockade, and the resistance of the Cuban people, you can’t help but be inspired and campaign to end the blockade on your return”.

“The blockade costs lives”, he said, highlighting the brutal nature of the over 50 year old policy of US aggression, citing a recent example of seven year old Noemi Bernardez, who had a brain tumour removed in September but cannot access the US-made chemotherapy drug temozolomide due to the blockade.

“We must continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Cuba as they try to end this vicious blockade”, he said.

Denis Doody, UCATT Northern Regional Secretary gave a rousing speech on Cuba’s internationalism, informing delegates about Cuba’s assisting role in the ending of apartheid in South Africa, in supporting Angola’s independence struggle and disaster responses to Kashmir, Haiti and Ecuador’s earthquakes, amongst others.

"It’s important that we keep up solidarity with Cuba - champions of the cause that another world is possible, where the needs of humankind are put before that of profit."

Delegates left the fringe meeting inspired by the continuing achievements of Cuba, with many signing up to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign during the conference and pledging to support the summer’s Miami Five Freedom Tour.

CSC would like to thank OH Parsons for supporting the UCATT fringe meeting

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