War 'never in interests of working people'

Unite executive head of operations Gail Cartmail reiterates Unite's solidarity with people and unions of Ukraine

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Speaking on a composite on the war in Ukraine, Unite executive head of operations Gail Cartmail gave an impassioned speech in which she said Unite “unreservedly condemns Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and stands in full solidarity with the millions who are victims of that attack”.

Gail highlighted the UN General Secretary’s report on children and armed conflict, which names Russia among the worst violators of rights.

“Among the growing civilian death toll are 550 children — 550 futures never realised,” she told Congress. “This carnage is a humanitarian disaster, which is why Unite reiterates its calls for an immediate cease-fire and a withdrawal of all Russian forces from Ukraine.”

“In line with the oldest traditions of the international trade union movement, Unite believes wars are never in the interests of working people,” Gail continued.

“It is working people and their families who always pay the highest price, and suffer most, when conflicts erupt that are led by elites with fully different interests to their own.”

She emphasised that “Unite has stood for peace throughout our history, but we are not pacifists”.

“Unite rejects any and all attempts by the UK Government to use this conflict as cover for its own failings or as an excuse to introduce unpopular and unacceptable policies,” Gail noted.

She went on to say that Unite “continues to stand in solidarity with the people and unions of Ukraine,” as she reiterated her union’s call for “all efforts to be exerted to achieve peace based on common security, justice and for the full respect of human rights and international law — and for negotiations to be supported by governments at the highest of levels”.

Concluding her speech, Gail urged Congress to “seek to strengthen links with Ukrainian trade unions and support their rights to organise freely — and especially recognise their role in building a more just and democratic post-war reconstruction”.

She added, “I’m sure you will send your solidarity and heart-felt condolences to families terrorised and torn apart by this war.”

The composite was carried.

By Hajera Blagg

Pic by Mark Thomas