Brendan Barber's speech to the Concert for Haiti

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Solidarity with Haitian trade unionists

Brendan Barber's speech

3 February 2010

Welcome everyone to Congress House, the home of the TUC, for this concert in aid of Haiti.

Let me first of all thank everyone who has worked so hard to get this event up and running, including Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Philosophy Football, all the artists and performers who are giving their time tonight, and also the designers, printers and photographers who have donated their services for free.

And let me also thank all of you for coming, and for supporting the TUC Aid appeal for Haiti.

It's now three weeks since the devastating earthquake hit the country.

Its impact was almost unimaginable.

200,000 people are likely to have been killed.

A quarter of a million have been injured.

Hundreds of thousands of buildings have been destroyed, including schools and hospitals, with a million people left homeless.

And this has happened in what was already the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

A country blighted by a legacy of political corruption and military intervention.

But I'm proud that the international trade union movement has rallied round to support our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

A tremendous example of solidarity in action.

We responded quickly to appeals from the Haitian CTH Federation, whose headquarters were badly damaged, and were able to get much-needed supplies over the border from the Dominican Republic.

An ITUC mission is now assessing how we can provide further support.

And here in the UK, the TUC Aid Appeal has raised over £50,000 - and tonight I can reveal that Unite are helping to double that total to £100,000.

I'm proud too that so many British workers, among them firefighters and NHS staff - and many of them trade unionists - travelled to Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake to provide emergency help.

But as we focus our attention on helping Haiti recover from the worst of the crisis, we must also look to the long term.

At how we can help Haiti develop, how we can improve its health and education, how we can tackle poverty and unemployment.

The labour movement will continue to support Haitian unions in their struggle for better work, better wages and better conditions.

We will provide whatever assistance we can; we will not walk on by.

Haiti is a proud country: it was where the struggle against slavery took hold, it was the first independent black republic in the world, and it is the second oldest republic in the western hemisphere.

So today, in its hour of need, let us all dig deep, let us show what solidarity really means, and let us help build a better future for the people of Haiti.

Thanks for listening.

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