Cuban hospitals and medical staff fighting Covid are to benefit from a £12,000 donation from Welsh public service workers.
The money has been used to buy surplus medical personal protective equipment (PPE), which will be shipped to Havana from the UK today (Tuesday).
Healthcare employees, local government workers and other public service staff answered an appeal organised by UNISON Cymru Wales, working with Cymru Cuba. The trade union acted because of a desperate shortage of medical supplies in Cuba as a direct result of American sanctions.
UNISON says public service workers in Wales felt a solidarity with Cuban healthcare workers having themselves experienced the very trying Covid conditions and seeing the devastation caused when there was a lack of protective equipment.
UNISON used the money to buy 3,500 masks, 500 gloves, hand santiser and hand wash for Cuban medical staff.
Katie Hall, UNISON Cymru Wales International Forum chair said,
“Public service workers in Wales faced their greatest challenge fighting Covid, caring for the sick and keeping our communities going. We cannot imagine how Cuban hospitals are coping under the strain of the American blockade and insufficient equipment. This threatens the safety of healthcare workers and their patients.
“Unjust US sanctions mean Cuban people do not have some basic food provisions and even pens and notebooks are hard to get, not to mention masks, gloves and visors in Covid hospital wards.
“It was a determination to do right by another group of public service workers that UNISON members in Wales have made such a generous donation to Cuban healthcare staff.”
Richard Essex, Cymru Cuba chair said,
“As a result of the embargo imposed on them by the USA, Cubans can’t obtain medication for illnesses like cancer or equipment for treatment such as dialysis.
“In the past, Cymru Cuba has helped provide donations of operating theatres and ambulances. However, working with UNISON has surpassed anything we’ve done before in one specific exercise and we are very proud to be associated with them.
“UNISON’s members have shown a striking capacity for generosity and empathy. This is wonderful proof Welsh workers are keen to work together with Cuba to ensure that its people can be treated as well as they are in Britain. Ultimately, Cuba must be allowed to trade freely with the rest of the world.”
UNISON paid tribute to PPE supplier, Vector Consumer Ltd, for the timely provision of its equipment for Cuba and advice.
The trade union also singled out its Wales Water branch and North Wales Health branch for the fantastic backing they have given UNISON’s Cuban appeal.
Notes for editors
- The shipment of goods will leave on 1 June and take up to 28 days to arrive in Cuba. A sister public services union there will move them to hospitals in
- Vector Consumer Ltd is a supplier to NHS Wales. Its goods are ethically sourced and it meets Welsh government anti-slavery requirements.
- Organising the shipment has been a huge logistical effort and UNISON Cymru Wales has been in regular liaison with the Cuban embassy.
- UNISON Cymru Wales has strong links with Cuba going back decades and in particular, the Guantanamo region. Prior to the pandemic, UNISON funded visitors from health union Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Salud.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97