Tomorrow sees the STUC St Andrew’s Day march and rally in Glasgow, an annual event to celebrate diversity and tolerance and to oppose inequality and racism across Scotland.
You’ll find all the relevant details about the St Andrew’s Day event, including articles of support from the likes of Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, on the STUC website.
However, for a uniquely Unite perspective on the St Andrew’s day celebrations, please take the time to read the below offering from Sam Ritchie, Vice Chair of Youth Committee here in Scotland.
St Andrew's Day march and rally Saturday 30 November
by Samantha Ritchie, vice chair of Unite Scotland’s youth committee
The St Andrew's march and rally is something which Unite Scotland’s youth committee fully supports. There is no place for racism in today’s society. Within our generation racism is not tolerated but it sadly in some areas still exists. And this is why, the fight continues to stomp out this discrimination and promote a fair and equal society.
Racism and discrimination has been extremely powerful when encouraging fear or hate of others in times of conflict and war, and even in economic downturns. For example, since the beginning of the economic downturn Greece’s extreme right wing party ‘Golden Dawn’ grew arms and legs. Golden dawn promotes fascism and believes that immigrants should be demonised and should not have any rights in Greece. They also perpetuate that fascists should not be prosecuted and racial attacks should not be penalised. This in itself is an assault on human rights and promotes racial discrimination. These types of political parties do not have a place in society and certainly should not have a place in Scotland.
If we look at ourselves in the UK however, we have also stood back and allowed racism to go on in our streets. For instance, look at the brutal murder of Stephen Lawrence which took place in April 1993. Stephen Lawrence was waiting for a bus when he was jumped by five white men because he was black. This was 20 years ago but two of these men were only convicted last year. It just shows that racism is still out there and this is why it is important we march on Saturday 30 November.
In 2010, The Equality & Human Rights Commission released a study which had some distressing findings. It stated that there are still disparities when it comes to education and employment. For example, “less than ten per cent of black students attend top UK universities compared with a quarter of white students. Around a third of black students will get a first or upper second class degree, compared with two thirds of white students.” Moreover, the study also highlighted that “black students face 24 per cent less pay than their white counterparts” (How Fair is Britain EHRC Report, 2010). This study emphasizes that we have a long way to go in order to promote equality.
Next year, is the 2014 Referendum whereby Scotland will vote whether or not they want to remain a part of the United Kingdom or will become independent. Many feel that regardless if it is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote ultimately they want Scotland to become a fair and equal society for all. Equality is what changes society and makes it progress into something better. This is why we must all come together in solidarity to march for on Saturday 30 November.
Unite Scotland has always reinforced that equalities are at the heart of the union and regardless of your skin colour, age, sexuality or gender you are equal and will not be treated any differently. This is something which we are all very proud to be a part of.
For us in the trade union movement we have always campaigned on standing up for ‘what is right’ and against draconian right wing measures which stop us from developing as a nation. For example, in 2010 we took to the streets of London to protest about ConDem cuts which were attacking the most vulnerable in society. We stand up against the blacklisting which takes places not in just in the construction industry but in workplaces across the UK. We stand up against Cameron and his Bullingdon club friends who think not paying taxes but evicting the poorest for having an extra bedroom is making us feel like ‘we are all in it together’. As a youth committee, we march because achieving equality for all is something we believe in. Marching on Saturday 30 November will show to the world that Scotland will not sit back and allow racism to be a part of our society. We march in solidarity in striving to tackle discrimination and racism in Scotland.