While my work is not often overtly political, all things ultimately are political.
My work in the Fire Brigades Union is overtly political of course. I became active in the union because a) i believe in the over arcing principals of collectivism, and trade unionism. b) because there was and is many many things which make being a fire fighter more miserable, difficult and dangerous than it should be. Many of us often consider handing in our badges and pagers, but since becoming a union activist I at least feel I can work towards trying to make things safer and better for my colleagues and our communities. In some ways it is career suicide, it is very stressful and an awful lot of grinding hard work. I may be tough enough to be a firefighter, but I am still an oversensitive and emotional artist, lacking the thick skin a politician can require!
So what makes the endless and seemly unsurmountable fight for social justice, a progressive society and safe workplaces worthwhile? The camaraderie and support of others, union, united, solidarity, together we stand!
Saturday 1st October in Glasgow was a March organised by STUC ( Scottish Trades Union Congress ) to protest against the public sector cuts in the UK under the current coalition government. Some unions are moving towards united strike action this winter.
I left home in the highlands at 5am, drove 65 miles to the train station at Inverness. Met up with my Brigade Union officials Marty & Deryck. The train journey's were a good time to catch up with lots of current difficulties and problems in our brigade area. Glasgow - FBU office a cup of tea and meet up with some other fire fighters and the regional ( scotland ) officials.
Some of these regional Officials are heading to Palestine tomorrow, using their own time and separately raised funds to take fire appliances and equipment over there. I have no end of admiration for what they are doing and the difficulties they face politically from all sides both at home and over there in undertaking this mission, good luck to them !
Then to the March in the POURING rain.
The Highlands and Islands representatives manned the FBU banner.
young & Old braved the weather to show support.
some flares were lit briefly casting some light into the dark grey rainsoaked streets
Tony Benn was the speaker. It was brilliant to hear him and his perspective after all his decades of campaigning. Estimated numbers at the march were 15 000 which was good considering the awful day!
The BBC covered it a bit here.
So what is the point of these Marches?to show the strength of feeling to the powers that be, to draw peoples attention to the issues, to disrupt things, a show of strength, to energize and motivate people, to bring us all together ? prehaps a little of all the above? I had a fantastic day out, despite all the travelling and being wet all day, doing a 20.5 hour day, it has given me a much needed boost to keep going, both politically, personally and artistically. Unionism is all about diversity, it's amazing how much of a boost it is to be embraced into a movement and yet valued as an individual. All different all equal.
If you've never marched before or think its all a bit too militant, its not and it IS great fun. Now let's get out there and fight the local and international injustices of incompetent management, corporatism, capitalism and consumerism!