Remembering Aberdeen’s solidarity with the Spanish seamen

Post date: 28/05/2016

A display to mark the 80th anniversary of Aberdeen’s solidarity with the Spanish seamen strike in the Granite City will go on show on Saturday 28 May at Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Shiprow.  


On 28 May 1936 the Spanish steamship Eolo sailed into Aberdeen as the Spanish Republican government approved an increase in wages for merchant seamen. Captain Arrinda of the Eolo withheld this information from the seamen and they went on strike for 15 weeks. During this time the workers of Aberdeen forged friendships, provided support to and learned from the Spanish crew.


These friendships led to 19 Aberdonians, including John Londragan, taking part in the Spanish Civil War. His granddaughter Nina Londragan has organised the display with support from Tommy Campbell, regional organiser for Unite the Union Aberdeen.   


The public is welcome to attend a special event at the museum to commemorate the anniversary at 11am on Saturday when Aberdeen City Councillor Barney Crockett will also welcome representatives from trade unions and from the XV International Brigade Aberdeen Committee. 


At 11.15am Gemma Reid, a final year student in Hispanic studies at the University of Aberdeen, will talk about her dissertation on Aberdeen and the Spanish Civil War. Then at 11.30am Nina Londragan will talk about Aberdeen’s Solidarity with the Spanish seamen and the city’s connections to the Spanish Civil War. This will be followed by poetry readings at 11.45am and a national seafarer’ film at 12noon. At 12.30pm Tommy Campbell, XV International Brigade Aberdeen Commemorative Committee, will bring the official event to a close. 


Statement of Support from the STUC on Eolo strike commemoration event”


“The trade union movement has a long history of internationalism and solidarity between workers. The Eolo strike in 1936 is a fantastic example of this tradition. Workers in Aberdeen played a vital role in this dispute, showing solidarity to the seamen on the SS Eolo, providing them with food and accommodation during their strike action and raising awareness of their cause. This action laid a foundation of solidarity between Aberdeen and Spain which led to a strong response from workers in Aberdeen to the Spanish Civil War. It should never be forgotten that 19 working-class volunteers left their homes and their families in Aberdeen to fight alongside workers in Spain against the scourge of fascism. It is important that we remember the history of working people, so often marginalised and downplayed, and the STUC is pleased to offer its support for the SS Eolo exhibition remembering an important moment in working people’s history 80 years on.”   


Norrie McVicar, of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), said:

“The story of the Eolo is stirring and, ultimately, heartbreaking. It speaks of solidarity in action, of a city protecting a community of seafarers in trouble, and of that example then helping mobilise genuine support for the Republican cause and the struggle against fascism. With the opening of this exhibition I think that every Aberdonian can walk with his or her head held a little higher today.”


Steve Todd, of the RMT, said: “The 80th anniversary of the Eolo strike is a timely reminder of the importance of workers’ rights and international solidarity during times of political turbulence. The people of Aberdeen’s practical and political support for the 33 Spanish crew remains an inspiration and will forever speak to the need for socialist struggle to create a better world. In the face of intimidating odds, they won their dispute and we will always remember this. The RMT pays tribute to the memories of all involved, including the five Aberdonians who gave their lives fighting for the International Brigade against fascism in Spain. This is a poignant and stirring exhibition which every trade unionist should visit.”


The display will be on show until Saturday 10 September 2016 at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum. Opening hours:
Monday – Saturday 10am-5pm
Sunday 12noon-3pm
Admission free

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