Palestinian labor expresses solidarity with European trade unions resisting austerity, supporting BDS measures

The Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PTUC-BDS) has issued a statement of solidarity with European trade unions resisting public spending cuts and job losses. Founded at a conference in Ramallah last year, PTUC-BDS is made up of all of the political blocs making up the PGFTU and all of the other major Palestinian trade unions.

The statement begins:

Ahead of a summer of conferences and meetings to organise opposition to austerity, the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PTUC-BDS), a broad coalition comprising almost the entirety of the Palestinian trade union movement, including professional syndicates, is proud to stand in solidarity with trade unions resisting attacks on working conditions, cuts to public services and job losses.

The waves of strikes and demonstrations taking place and being planned across Europe and the defeat of pro-austerity governments in France and Greece are timely reminders of the importance and power of struggle, and of the fact that ordinary working people oppose the ideologically driven efforts to make them pay for a crisis caused by powerful political and financial elites.

Those same elites profit from and actively support Israel’s system of occupation, colonisation and apartheid over the Palestinian people and its daily infringements of the basic rights and dignity of Palestinian workers. The agenda of perpetual war and relentless exploitation unites them. We, too, must be united in a joint quest for freedom, justice and equality. Palestinian trade unions and trade union activists stand in solidarity with your struggle. Your dignity is ours.

The statement then goes on to express gratitude to the Swedish Congress of Trade Unions, which recently voted to adopt BDS measures, and to restate support for trade union involvement in proactive BDS campaigns and a boycott of the Histadrut, the racist Israeli trade union entity:

As trade unions and trade union activists gather, we also remember and express our gratitude for the inspiring solidarity shown to the Palestinian people by European trade unions in the form of BDS. We especially express our thanks to the Swedish Trade Union Federation (LO), which recently voted to adopt measures in the BDS framework…

…[T]rade unions around the world are taking steps to reconsider and even sever their ties with Histadrut, the colonial Israeli trade union entity that has always played a key role in Israel’s system of oppression over the Palestinian people. The Histadrut has issued statements in favour of both Israel’s 22-day war of aggression in 2008-09 and the Israeli massacre of humanitarian activists on board the Freedom Flotilla in 2010.[3] The organisation participated in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba, contributed to the construction of and holds financial interests in illegal Israeli settlements, has failed to take action to prevent systematic discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and has withheld funds owed to Palestinian workers.

It is evident that a policy of “constructive engagement,” as some international trade unionists have advocated, will provide further legitimacy and impunity to the Histadrut’s complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights. The PTUC-BDS, a coalition comprised of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian trade union movement, including all of the political blocs making up the PGFTU, is unequivocal in calling for a severing of links with the Histadrut as an effective and necessary form of solidarity with our struggle.

In parallel, trade unions are initiating concrete campaigns and actions, such as the heroic blockades of Israeli ships by dockworkers in South Africa, India, Sweden, Greece, Turkey and California, and the campaigns by the London region of the UK Rail, Maritime and Trans against Alstom, due to its complicity with an illegal occupation infrastructure project, and by the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees (Fagforbundet) against Ahava and other companies complicit with Israeli violations of international law. Trade union campaigns targeting corporate and state complicity with Israeli violations of international law are a vital and effective form of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, and the PTUC-BDS looks forward to working alongside trade union colleagues around the world to develop further such activity and strengthen cross-movement struggles for human rights, social justice and dignified living everywhere.

Activists are encouraged to distribute the statement through their networks. A printable version of the statement, complete with PTUC-BDS membership list, is available for download.

National trade union federations in the UK, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, the Basque Country, Norway and Sweden, and scores of national and local unions across Europe, have adopted BDS as a principle framework of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.



Michael Deas

Michael Deas's picture

Michael Deas is a Palestine solidarity organiser based in the UK.

He was formerly a campaigns officer with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the Palestinian civil society coalition that acts as the Palestinian reference of the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law. 

You can get regular BDS updates from the BNC by following @BDSmovement. Michael Tweets from @michaeldeas