I mean, you’ve got things like ... We hold community meetings and this is part of the way that we found Peterhead basically. We’ve held two meetings up there and we’ve had about sixty people attend them after hours on a weekday, so it’s probably not the best time to hold a meeting but we’ve had a decent turnout. All of these people are ... you know, we’ve got a sheet that’s got fifteen of the basic rights at work, it’s just a guideline, and we open up the meeting with that and just said to them: “We can basically play bingo on this and see all of you will have encountered a breach of one if not more of these,” and they were all in agreeance. Trying to figure out one basic reason for unionising a place is a bit difficult. I mean, there’s things like social inclusion so that if ... As I was saying before you started recording, we’ve got a migrant workers branch set up and, basically, one of it’s aims is to do a lot of outreach work so that we can get volunteers going on things like cancer walks and blood drives and every time we do that we get in the paper. So it brings people into the community more and more by kind of, I suppose, by inches without them knowing, and I suppose, over time, it will reduce the barriers. Definitely in the North East there’s a real exclusion, both imposed by the migrant groups and the Scottish society as well. The migrant workers tend to exclude themselves and they tend to be excluded in society so, you know, they’ve got their own shops. Obviously the schools are provided, health is provided. For economical and financial reasons, they don’t tend to go to pubs so they’ll have house parties so that way that they could go out and meet people is also restricted. They work in places where there might be one native worker. A lot of them don’t speak English, which is another thing that we’re trying to address. As we get unionised, we’ll be having learning agreements so that we can get English tutors in to teach English to these people free of charge. So there’s social reasons, there’s economic reasons ... alluding to that a lot of them are skilled workers in unskilled jobs and with requisite minimum wage that goes along with it. There’s also family reasons. Like a lot of them are, from my experience, fairly young. I’m thirty-four and they tend to be a bit younger than I am and they’ll already have children. So even things like they can’t afford to take days off for their kids’ birthdays so ... There’s no simple answer to that unfortunately. Basically, I suppose we’re trying to unionise them to get them better wages, to get them better work conditions.

  • Dominic Allen
Tuesday 16th December 2008