May Day 2020

mayday event pic

Thousands of people tuned into the annual May Day celebrations hosted by the STUC and across Scotland by Trades Councils

You can watch the events on the facebook pages below


Aberdeen and Dundee


or Edinburgh and the Lothians


I’m glad to be here, addressing you on behalf of the STUC, & standing shoulder to shoulder with our international comrades, on this very important day, when we celebrate the role of workers across the world.

These are, without a doubt, the most challenging times that our generation has faced, and I am acutely aware, that while we come together to celebrate the role of workers, & the past struggles we’ve won, key workers across the world are on the frontline, fighting against this terrible virus.

And I want to pay particular tribute, to our workers in the care sector where the true tragedy of this virus is unfolding, where our most vulnerable are dying in too high numbers, and where underpaid and undervalued, the workforce has had to struggle for too long without access to proper levels of PPE and testing. This situation has shamed all of us, It is nothing short of scandalous, and it must be rectified.

Today we salute, their commitment, their sacrifices, their dedication and their bravery. In these dark times, they have gone the extra mile to look after all of us, and now as trade unionists we must stand strong, ready to look after them.

That means, we will not rest, until all key workers get the access they need, to proper PPE, and mass testing and tracing programmes, are up and running to full capacity.

That means, putting people before profits, and insisting non essential workers remain at home, until it can be proven, that infection & reinfection rates, have decreased to safe levels.

That means, fighting to ensure, that no workers safety is compromised or put at risk, and ensuring that physical distancing measures, can be enforced both in our workplaces, and on our public transport systems, until a vaccine has been found.

So to all workers our message is this. If you want to ensure you are properly protected and your interests are put first, then join a union, and build a strong collective with your fellow workers. Because while your employer will ultimately prioritise getting the job done, your union is always on your side, we will always put your safety first, and will support you, to fight for and win better conditions at work.

And to our army of amazing union reps out there, our shop stewards and our health and safety reps, I want to pay tribute and to thank you for your tireless hard work throughout this crisis. We know you, have been going above and beyond, throughout this crisis, fighting the good fight and doing whatever it takes, to get the best possible protections, put in place for your members. Doing everything you can, to protect lives, and protect lively hoods.

We too are working hard, and engaging closely with government and with employers, to find the best solutions for workers, but while it’s true that we must work together at all levels to defeat the virus, we must also face the unpleasant fact, that grave mistakes have been made, and this has cost lives – the UK has chalked up one of the highest death rates in the world so far, and we must be prepared to ask the hard questions of government, and learn the hard lessons. & we will never shy away, from challenging, from expressing both the sheer anger, and the real fears felt by our members, as they deal with intolerable situations on a daily basis.

This pandemic has held up a mirror to our civilisation at a global level, and it has reflected the sharp contrasts between the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, the have’s and the have not’s. For example, while the middle classes largely work from home, huge swathes of our frontline key workers, those who are literally keeping the country going, are paid poverty wage levels.

More than half of those key workers are women, & the stress placed particularly on women workers has increased, due to many taking on the mantle of unpaid caring responsibilities, for vulnerable family members, as many community care services, have been reduced to emergency cover only. Those with disabilities have also been adversely impacted by the stress on our care system, while higher than average numbers of BAME frontline workers have contracted the virus, and paid the ultimate price, with their lives.

Lessons must be learned from this tragedy, we must recognise the wrongs of the past, and we must call for a new deal for all key workers, that acknowledges their sacrifices and commitment.

That’s why the STUC are today launching out time 2 pay keyworkers campaign, which calls on the Scottish government and all employers of key workers, to recognise their value, and give them an immediate uplift, of at least £2 per hour wage increase.

We are also calling on the UK government, to increase the statutory minimum wage to £10per hour, for all workers.

We know, that the priority of key workers across the country, during this crisis, is keeping others well, safe and supplied. But just because that is their priority, it doesn’t mean we should forget their needs. We need to reverse the long-term trend, of undervaluing these heroes, and we need to start now.

They are the same people who bore the brunt of the 2010 recession. More than half of them are women. & we want to ensure that as we emerge from this current crisis, history does not repeat itself.
We welcome and that the public has shown great appreciation, by clapping key workers’ magnificent commitment, every Thursday, This action by the people, has given many key workers a real moral boost, and it’s value should not be underestimated. But clapping doesn’t pay the bills, or put food on the table, and we believe, that people will want to go the extra mile for these workers, just as they have gone the extra mile for us.

For many of these workers, particularly in the food sector, the UK Government could make a real difference by taking the step of raising the Living Wage to £10 an hour, right now. This basic minimum should apply to all workers, whatever their age. & the STUC, has met with the Scottish Government today, to press that key workers, whose work is directly, or indirectly paid for, through public funds, should receive at least a £2 per hour uplift. We also want them to join us, in pressing the UK Government, for that immediate Minimum Wage uplift to £10, and to make the fiscal commitment to raising pay.

Some will say that now is not the time for a pay rise, that we have too limited resources, that we will need to prioritise rebuilding our economy.
But now is exactly the time, that we need to be putting money into the pockets of low paid workers. That’s how we’ll get money into local communities, and that’s how we will rebuild our economy from the bottom up. No more should we be allowing governments to bail out the billionaires like we did in the banking crisis, and then punish workers with 10 years of austerity, that starved our public services, and left us ill equipped to defend our people during this crisis.

Now, is the time for us, to both learn the lessons and take inspiration from the past. We will need big government, and big bold thinking, to rebuild a better society. And it absolutely can be achieved, if we have the political will to do it.
At the end of the 2nd world war, we had millions dead, our cities lay in ruins, and our coffers were empty, But we rejected the idea of returning to the old economic and social order. & Through the power of the Labour movement, we offered a different vision.

With our industrial and political power, we acted to make change. We established the welfare state, created the NHS and undertook a massive housebuilding programme, to move folk out of the slums.

We recognized, the sacrifices that had been made by working people, by giving them a new social contract, and there is no reason why our ambitions, coming out of this struggle should be any less, for working people.

That means taking back economic control, through permanently nationalising the energy grid, and establishing publicly owned transport, energy and broadband companies, which will help us build a greener future for all.

It means building back better: with unionised labour producing NHS equipment; energy infrastructure and renewables; public transport infrastructure; food production and processing, here in Scotland.

It means, making the rich pay, through creating new wealth taxes and increasing income tax on corporations and the rich.

It means permanently shifting the balance of power, in favour of tenants not landlords, and rebuilding our social security system so that there is a decent safety net in place for all.

& so the time has come, when we must get organized, we must collectivise, join together, start listing & making our demands now, and shout them louder and louder with more and more voices until they can’t be ignored!
& out of the ashes of this global pandemic, we will grow the roses, and we will build a society, that truly values people before profits.

May Day Posters

Celebrate May Day again!
Celebrate May Day!