TUC debates a boycott of occupation-related goods and activities
And Hugh Lanning, Deputy-President of the Public and Commercial Services Union and Chair of PSC has published a call Stand up and be Counted that follows the JC report below.
See See the TUC Resolution 76 and amendments here.
Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, has confirmed it will be backing a boycott of Israeli goods proposed by the Fire Brigades Union, along with public sector trade union, Unison.
Unison and Unite’s support will now make the FBU’s chance of successfully getting the TUC to agree to the motion far greater.
Motion 76, tabled by the firefighters, called for the TUC to review its links with Histadrut, its Israeli trade union counterpart.
It also called for a ban on the importation of all goods from “illegal settlements”, the ending of all arms trading with Israel, a boycott of Israeli goods and divestment from companies “associated with the occupation”.
The motion will be debated at the TUC tomorrow in Liverpool.
The GMB, which proposed a compromise amendment condemning Hamas as well as Israel took the unusual step of issuing a statement condemning the actions of fellow trade unions.
Paul Kenny, general secretary of GMB said: “GMB is not a gesture trade union and we do not believe in carrying motions that we do not intend to put into effect. GMB does not believe that the position set out in Motion 76 is the correct position.
“GMB has no mandate for it and we believe it would cut off lines of communication with the Israeli trade unions. We will be moving our amendment to the floor tomorrow and we hope we will persuade the Congress to adopt what we consider is the correct position on this motion.”
GMB will support continuing links with Histadrut.
The FBU cited Histadrut’s support for the recent conflict Gaza as the reason for its proposed review of the two trade unions’ relations.
When the amendment was first proposed, a spokesman for the FBU said: “The Fire Brigades Union is proud of our history of opposition to racism. Our motions to the TUC are in that tradition of international concern.
“We are aware that there are progressive elements in Israeli society who strive for peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. Our TUC motions aim to strengthen that movement towards peace.”
Hugh Lanning, Morning Star, Monday 14 September 2009
At this year’s TUC conference, delegates will have an opportunity to regain the leading role that trade unions played in confronting apartheid South Africa by adopting practical solidarity with Palestinians.
In the wake of Israel’s war on Gaza, unions passed a wave of motions calling for solidarity action.
The Fire Brigades Union, which is moving the motion at Congress, voted to support and promote throughout the trade union and labour movement a campaign to boycott Israeli goods, disinvest from Israeli institutions and impose sanctions against Israel.
Governments, including our own, have failed to uphold international law and end Israel’s occupation. The Fourth Geneva Convention, designed to protect those living under an occupying force, is violated continuously by Israel.
We must act now. As with apartheid South Africa, the time has come for trade unions to help build the movement for justice for Palestine and adopt practical solidarity, including a boycott of Israeli goods.
A key development this year was the Scottish TUC’s (STUC) decision to support the boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign. The STUC envisaged a “targeted consumer-led boycott, where trade union members should not put their own jobs at risk by refusing to deal with Israeli products or work with organisations that are involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
“Rather, these trade union members have a campaigning role, in working with their employers to raise greater awareness of the issues and the case for boycott.
“The campaign will encourage trade unionists to boycott goods and especially agricultural products that have been produced in the illegal Israeli settlements.”
Other unions, including UNISON, Unite, PCS and RMT, also support a boycott of Israeli goods.
The export of goods grown on illegal Israeli settlements – stolen Palestinian land – is a live issue for trade union members.
At its conference, USDAW called for “clear labelling of goods sold in the UK, so that Israeli companies cannot label as ‘West Bank’ goods that they produce in the illegally occupied territory.”
The STUC’s decision also reflected the outrage felt over the statement by Histadrut (the Israeli trade union confederation) fully supporting Israel’s attack on Gaza in January and describing it as “an act of justifiable self-defence.”
Histadrut’s statement even ran contrary to Israeli spokespeople’s admissions that the assault had been planned well in advance.
The NUT and CWU also voted at their conferences to condemn Histadrut’s statement.
The STUC adopted a policy to raise with Histadrut its position “in relation to Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories. The STUC will review its relationship with Histadrut in this context.”
The FBU motion also calls for an end to arms trade with Israel. Foreign Secretary David Miliband admitted that F-16s and Apache helicopters, naval vessels and armoured personnel carriers used by Israel in Gaza “almost certainly” contained British-supplied components.
We must stop aiding Israel’s repression of Palestinians.
It is time for action. Time for solidarity. And time to support the FBU motion.
Hugh Lanning is deputy general secretary of PCS and chairman of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Congress condemns the Government of Israel’s January offensive in Gaza resulting in 1,450 Palestinians deaths and 5,000 injured and the massive destruction of infrastructure.
Congress further condemns the ongoing blockade that is in contravention of International Law.
Congress calls on the General Council to:
i) use its influence with the British Government to make appropriate representations to the international community to secure support for a negotiated settlement based on justice for the Palestinians
ii) build solidarity with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.
Congress condemns the Histadrut statement of 13 January 2009 in which it backed the attacks on Gaza and calls on the General Council to carry out a review of the TUC’s relationship with Histadrut.
Congress calls on the General Council to pressure the Government to:
a) condemn the Israeli military aggression and end the blockade on Gaza
b) end all arms trading with Israel
c) impose a ban on the importing of goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories
d) support moves to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
Congress further calls on the General Council to encourage affiliation to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and to develop an effective Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign by working closely with the PSC to:
1) raise greater awareness on the issues
2) promote a targeted consumer-led boycott
3) encourage trade unionists to boycott Israeli goods, especially agricultural products that have been produced in the illegal settlements
4) encourage campaigns of disinvestment from companies associated with the occupation.
Fire Brigades’ Union
At the end of paragraph 1, insert: ‘and Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.’
At the end of paragraph 2, insert: ‘and prevents vital supplies from reaching the people of Gaza.’
In paragraph 3, at end of sub-paragraph ii), insert: ‘, including through project support and encouraging and supporting stronger relations with the Histadrut.’
In paragraph 4, line 1, replace ‘condemns’ with ‘regrets’. In line 3 insert a full stop after ‘Gaza’ and delete the remaining words in the paragraph.
In paragraph 5, delete sub-paragraph b). Renumber existing sub-paragraph c) as b) and insert at the start of it ‘seek EU agreement to’. Renumber existing sub-paragraph d) as c).
In paragraph 6, delete all from ‘to develop’ in line 3 to ‘PSC’ in line 5. Delete sub-paragraph 2) and renumber sub-paragraph 3) as 2). In this new sub-paragraph 2), add ‘those’ before ‘Israeli goods’ and replace ‘,especially’ with ‘and’. Re-number sub-paragraph 4) as 3), inserting at end: ‘and pressure companies to withdraw from building the separation wall.’
Add new final paragraph:
‘Congress asserts that in undertaking these actions each affiliate will operate within its own aims and objectives and within the law.’
University and College Union