Defending democracy in Catalonia

Jim McFarlane
Jim McFarlane

#stuc18 Congress agreed a motion on defending democracy in Catalonia that called for the immediate release and acquittal of all political prisoners, and pledged political pressure in Holyrood and Westminster to achieve this.

All affiliates and Trades Unions Councils are asked to proactively link up with their equivalents in Catalonia – working to strengthen solidarity and getting ready to respond to calls from Catalonia in practical ways to counter any future attempts to repress the democratic will of the Catalan people.

UNISON’s Jim McFarlane stressed that “the right to self determination is a universal democratic right.”

Supporting the Glasgow Trades Union Council motion, he said: “As the trade union movement in Scotland it is not our right or place to say whether Catalonia should be independent or not. That is for the people living there.

“However it is our right and duty to defend their democratic right to decide their future as we did in 2014.

“The repression and imprisonment of elected Catalan politicians, musicians and artists is an outrage and should be condemned.

“The state violence used on the streets against peaceful protesters should be condemned.

“Our sister trade unions in Catalonia are the biggest and potentially most powerful democratic organisations and have a key role in setting the agenda and defending democratic rights.

“We actively support their work to defend and extend democracy.”

The motion praised groups of workers who have been central to resisting “the violence and repression of the Spanish State” and stressed that threats to democracy in other European cities need to be resisted.

Jim added: “The sight of firefighters protecting peaceful protestors from police attacks should be applauded.

“The role of teachers defending Catalonian language rights should be applauded.

“The regime of 1978’s Franco-ist constitution should not be used to suppress democratic rights.

“The silence of other western governments and the EU is outrageous.

“This is not a rerun of the Scottish independence referendum. Scotland is not Catalonia.”

And he raised a laugh in the hall, saying that they “usually have better weather and football teams.”

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