PSC: British trade union federation endorses boycott of Israel

Report by PSC, Omar Barghouti
Published: 17/09/09

Omar Barghouti comments

One of the largest trade union federations in the world, the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) has overwhelmingly adopted BDS motions in its annual congress!

The South African trade union federation, COSATU, and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) were the two national TU federations that preceded the TUC in adopting BDS.

Given that TUC represents over 6. 5 million British workers, this huge success is no small feat. The size and political significance of the British TUC's endorsement of BDS motions will surely add qualitatively to the impressive rise of the BDS movement after the Israeli massacre in Gaza, further confirming that our South Africa moment has arrived.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and its partners have worked tirelessly, persistently and tactfully for several years to reach this astounding victory, crowning previous BDS endorsements -- direct or indirect -- by the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) earlier this year and several leading British trade unions including Unison and the University and College Union (UCU), the latter representing about 120, 000 members in academia.

A warm salute especially to the PSC, as well as the STUC, BRICUP and to all British BDS activists who contributed over the years to this watershed in the BDS movement's history in the UK, Europe and beyond.

It is worth remembering that in the struggle against South African apartheid the British trade union movement was among the very few in the vanguard of boycotts and divestment that eventually spread to the rest of the world, helping the democracy and freedom movement in South Africa bring down the racist regime. Israeli apartheid and its apologists should take note of this.

Below are excerpts from the motion that passed, sponsored by the amazingly principled and courageous Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and amended by the UCU. Following that is the PSC press release about this victory.

Omar


FBU Motion adopted by TUC Congress 2009

Motion was amended with final paragraph by UCU

(EXCERPTS)

"Congress condemns the Histadrut statement of 13th 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 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.

Congress asserts that in undertaking these actions each affiliate will operate within its own aims and objectives and within the law.”


Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)
Press release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
17 September 2009

Britain’s unions commit to a mass boycott movement of Israeli goods

In a landmark decision, Britain’s trade unions have voted overwhelmingly to commit to build a mass boycott movement, disinvestment and sanctions on Israel for a negotiated settlement based on justice for Palestinians.

The motion was passed at the 2009 TUC Annual Congress in Liverpool today (17 September), by unions representing 6. 5 million workers across the UK.

Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: ‘This motion is the culmination of a wave of motions passed at union conferences this year, following outrage at Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, and reflects the massive growth in support for Palestinian rights. We will be working with the TUC to develop a mass campaign to boycott Israeli goods, especially agricultural products that have been produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank. ’

The motion additionally called for the TUC General Council to put pressure on the British government to end all arms trading with Israel and support moves to suspend the EU-Israel trade agreement. Unions are also encouraged to disinvest from companies which profit from Israel’s illegal 42-year occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

The motion was tabled by the Fire Brigades Union. The biggest unions in the UK, including Unite, the public sector union, and UNISON, which represents health service workers, voted in favour of the motion.

The motion also condemned the Israeli trade union Histadrut’s statement supporting Israel’s war on Gaza, which killed 1, 450 Palestinians in three weeks, and called for a review of the TUC’s relationship with Histadrut.

Britain’s trade unions join those of South Africa and Ireland in voting to use a mass boycott campaign as a tool to bring Israel into line with international law, and pressure it to comply with UN resolutions that encourage justice and equality for the Palestinian people.

Notes to Editors

- Media contact: Palestine Solidarity Campaign 020 7700 6192

- The full motion passed on 17 September can be viewed at: www.congressvoices.org/2009/76-palestine/

- The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is the largest solidarity movement with Palestinians in Britain – and is supported by thousands of individual members alongside 18 national trade union and hundreds of local trade union affiliates. For more information: www.palestinecampaign.org

- The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aims to pressure Israel into complying with international law. www.bdsmovement.net


The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Box BM PSA
London
WC1N 3XX
Tel: 020 7700 6192
Fax: 020 7609 7779
Email: info@palestinecampaign.org
Web: www.palestinecampaign.org