The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) — representing trade unions and trades councils from the whole island of Ireland — have today passed two motions on Palestine that are extremely critical of the actions of the Israeli government in its oppression of the Palestinian people. The two motions condemn Israel for its human rights abuses, its policy of ethnic cleansing and its war crimes. The motions have been proposed by Belfast Trades Council and by Derry Trades Council. Both motions go into considerable detail about the suffering endured by the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation. Conference also criticizes the British and Irish governments and the European Union for the failed policy of “constructive engagement.” It characterizes EU policy as one of as “appeasement,” and in particular criticises the EU for failing to end the preferential trading status granted to Israel under the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement — as it is formally obligated to do under the human rights clause in Article 2 of that agreement.
In voting for the motions Conference has not only brought to the attention of the world the massive and enduring injustices being carried out by the Israeli state and by those who collude with it — companies such as Caterpillar and Irish Cement Roadholdings — but it has also authorized the leadership of the Irish trade union movement to undertake a wide range of measures to oppose such oppressive actions and to register its solidarity. These include a commitment to “actively and vigorously” promote a policy of boycott and of divestment, to make direct representations to government and to the EU, and to mobilize EU-wide trade union solidarity action. Conference also called upon ICTU to send a senior delegation to the Palestinian territories to establish solidarity links. It also welcomed the establishment by ICTU of Trade Union Friends of Palestine.
The ICTU is the largest mass organization of the Irish working class. It represents all sections of labor — from low-paid to senior management — and all sectors of industry and employment. At its last Biennial Delegate Conference in 2005 the ICTU commited itself to “campaign in solidarity with the Palestinian people.” In its actions today conference has put meat on the bones of that policy. It is highly significant and it should be noted that there was no opposition at all to any of the motions, despite the fact that they represent what must be one of the strongest positions adopted by any trade union congress in the world. Today’s conference has thereby demonstrated that all sections of the Irish working class and of Irish civil society continue to be appalled at the inhumanity of Israeli state policy. It demonstrates that the people of Ireland — north and south — are steadfast in their commitment to stand in solidarity alongside their long-suffering and heroic Palestinian brothers and sisters.