Scotland: Sri Lankan socialist receives enthusiastic welcome

Workers give generous solidarity for tsunami campaign

Comrade Upul from Sri Lanka visited Scotland from the 1st to the 5th March. Overall the visit was very successful both for the Scottish section and for the Sri Lankan CWI comrades.

Snow delayed Upul’s arrival to Scotland by a few hours and unfortunately it meant an invitation to address the Glasgow UNISON Social Work Shop Stewards’ Committee had to be cancelled.

In Dundee, Tuesday 3 March, Upul spoke at the first of three CWI public branch meetings, which we advertised in the Scottish Socialist Party’s (SSP) paper and which we leafleted for.

Upul gave a very good report of the situation in Sri Lanka following the tsunami, as well as the work and programme of the United Socialist Party (USP). One person donated £50 to the appeal.

On Wednesday afternoon two youth comrades at Glasgow University organised a socialist students meeting, with 20 turning up, including some members of the SSP’s youth wing. There was a good discussion, which dealt in some detail with the national question in Sri Lanka. This was a common feature of all the meetings Upul spoke at. This helped raise the profile of the CWI among young people involved in the SSP and some who are not.

Wednesday night was the Glasgow CWI meeting. On Thursday, Upul met with four of the SSP MSP’s, including Tommy Sheridan and Colin Fox, as well as three of the SSP parliamentary staff. This was very worthwhile and the SSP MSPs agreed to push for the USP Tsunami appeal and the health workers’ appeal, at all levels of the SSP. There was an Edinburgh CWI meeting in the evening.

On Friday 4 March, Upul was back in Dundee. UNISON, in Dundee, organised for Upul to address a lobby of trade unionists at the Scottish Labour Party conference. Tony Blair was speaking on the Friday and 300 local government workers came to protest against the attacks on public sector pensions. Upul brought greetings from the Free Trade Union Centre of Sri Lanka and spoke of the attacks of the Sri Lankan government against workers’ pensions there. He got a very good response.

Following the rally Upul held a discussion with the Tayside FBU (fire fighters’ union) Secretary, who took the appeal letter from the Sri Lankan health workers and has promised to raise it at the Scottish regional committee of the FBU. Upul also met TGWU officials and the Dundee City UNISON branch officials, who have all promised to raise money for the appeal.

As well as these meetings, Upul held numerous discussions with CWI comrades, both on the situation in Sri Lanka and on the situation in Scotland and the work of the CWI.

Hundreds of pounds were raised at the CWI meetings for the USP’s tsunami appeal.

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