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‘People should come before profit’: Aberdeen workers rally to fight ‘greed and injustice’ at the workplace

Aberdeen Trade Union Council's May Day March and Rally. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.
Aberdeen Trade Union Council's May Day March and Rally. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

Dozens of workers took their plea for “better pay and a decent pension” to the streets of Aberdeen as the cost of living crisis continues to soar “by the minute”.

People of all ages marched to the sounds of drums on Saturday to fight any form of injustice in the workplace and push for a transition that puts workers at its heart.

Organised by the Aberdeen Trades Union Council (ATUC), the event was a return to in-person marches following two years of online rallies due to the pandemic.

It was held as a celebration of working men and women across the world to mark International Workers Day and highlight the main issues faced by today’s society.

Armed with banners and colourful flags, those taking part marched along Union Street to voice their struggles and demand action from those in power.

People hit to the streets of Aberdeen with banners and flags. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

‘It’s time to fight back’

ATUC chairman Graeme Farquhar accused the Westminster government of leaving workers out to dry in a difficult year, where many are struggling.

He said: “May Day is usually a day of celebration for all workers, but this year with the cost of living crisis, we don’t know how much to celebrate.

“This is a party [the Conservatives] which has normalised poverty while enriching themselves at the expense of the working man, woman and their families.

Graeme Farquhar holding a speach at the ATUC rally. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

“They’ve awarded themselves a £2,000 pay rise and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for every worker in the UK.

“Their achievements have so far resulted in the need for foodbanks, hot water bottles, blankets, and low wages way below inflation, with people being forced to choose between heating or eating.

“Enough is enough – it’s time to fight back.”

‘People should come before profit’

Everybody taking part in the rally later gathered at the Castlegate to “sing through the hard times” in unity and solidarity to local and international workers.

Mr Farquhar added this is even more crucial given the “brutal” wars in Yemen and Ukraine, as well as the oppression of the Palestinians and Kurds.

One of the attendees, Gillian Siddons, said the system has been in desperate need of change for decades.

CR0035329 – Aberdeen Trade Union Council’s May Day March and Rally. Picture by Scott Baxter 07/05/2022

The 71-year-old added: “I believe in workers’ rights. Everyone deserves a basic standard of life – a house, food on the table, a job – and those who can’t have that should be supported by society.

“Love for money and power is the worst addiction in the world, and it’s up to those with authority and the government to keep the checks in balance and support the ordinary people.

“I don’t know what I can do today, but a change is needed. People should come before profit.”

CR0035329 – Aberdeen Trade Union Council’s May Day March and Rally. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

Union activist Lesley Dunbar, 66, said: “Today’s theme is ‘peace and prosperity’ and these are exactly the things we should recognise and encourage others to do so.

“Just as spring is coming, we need to have faith in growth and building something new for our future.”

Call to raise concerns on higher level

This year, the ATUC has been organising protests against the “intensifying” rising cost of living – with energy bills rising 14 times faster than wages.

They have also highlighted the recent P&O scandal as a reason why changes need to be made to employment laws to support workers’ rights.

Maggie Chapman speaking at the event. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman, who represents the north-east region and was one of the speakers at the rally, promised to be the voice of workers in parliament.

She said: “History shows us that they [the government] cannot beat the power of workers, but we need to maximise that power.

“We are faced with the massive need to transition our energy economy and Aberdeen must be at the forefront of that. The need to move beyond the oil and gas has never been more pressing, but we need to make sure that it is led by workers for workers.

“We need a transition that puts workers and communities at its heart.”

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