Yesterday (10 September) the Trades Union Congress (at present headed by Bradford bus driver Mohammed Taj) which represents fifty-four of the largest unions in Britain and accounts for some six million members, voted overwhelmingly at its meeting in Liverpool to adopt its General Council's Statement on Gaza, which reads as follows (emphasis added):
'Congress deplores the fact that since 7 July,over two thousand Palestinians have been killed, two thirds of them civilians and including many people going about their daily work, as well as nearly 500 children, and 69 Israelis, four of whom were civilians. Tens of thousands of residents of Gaza have fled their homes or seen them damaged or destroyed, and have nowhere to go.
Congress welcomes the ceasefire negotiated between the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the Israeli Government, as called for in the General Council statement in July, and recognises the partial relaxation of the blockade of Gaza, but recognises that it will not be sufficient unless the blockade of Gaza and occupation of the West Bank are resolved in line with UN resolutions. Congress deplores the announcement by the Israel Defence Forces’ Civil Administration on 31 August of further annexations of land for settlement construction in the West Bank, allegedly as a response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teens by Hamas militants in the area in June. This is a shocking provocation that will redraw the map of the West Bank and can only stoke up further resentment.
Congress particularly deplores attacks on UN facilities, including the attacks on seven UNWRA schools between 21 July and 3 August which killed more than 50 people and injured over 300, and notes the UNOCHA’s regular reports of the terrible damage done to properties, infrastructure and people.
Congress welcomes the creation of a unity government for the Palestinian Authority, which necessarily involves both Fatah and Hamas, and urges the UK government and the European Union to support this development, in the context of the TUC’s longstanding support for a two-state solution based on security for both Israel and Palestine and justice for the Palestinian people. Congress resolves to step up the campaign for a free Palestine, and welcomes the ITUC Day of Action for Gaza held on 7 August and the demonstrations for peace organised across the UK by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others.
We deplore racism, descrimination and hate crimes of any form, including antisemitism, such as attacks on synagogues.
Congress considers the response of the UK government, the EU and the UN to Israel’s attack on Gaza has been unacceptable. We join with Amnesty International, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others in calling on the UK government and the EU to end immediately arms trading with Israel including all military-industrial collaboration. The TUC should, working with the relevant unions, press those companies involved in supporting Israel’s military to cease to do so.
Congress commits to raise the pressure on corporations complicit in arms trading, the settlements, occupation and the wall by organising a seminar for affiliated unions to consider strategies – such as worker capital strategies including pension funds – to put pressure on complicit corporations to cease to do so and withdraw from the Occupied Territories. Congress agrees to work with the international trade union movement and workplace representatives to co-ordinate such action against complicit corporations.
We reiterate our encouragement to unions to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, urge union members to join the PSC Trade Union network, and agree to organise, jointly with the PSC, a trade union conference in 2015 to review progress on the action points listed above.
Congress reiterates its solidarity with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions, and our commitment to visit Gaza with the PGFTU as soon as is practicable. We will continue to be guided by the PGFTU and encourage unions to revitalise their contacts with sister organisations in Palestine, especially to assist them in rebuilding their organisations in Gaza. We will seek the support of the ETUC and ITUC for the policies set out in this statement, and support the calls of the ETUC and ITUC for a just settlement to the problems of the Middle East. 'Needless to say, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (logo above; note that Israel-free map), is jubilant, as the statement by its director, Sarah Colborne, shown above, indicates
The PSC notes:
'Speakers from the major unions were lining up during today’s debate to endorse the General Council’s statement on Gaza....
Following the debate, Billy Hayes, CWU [Communication Workers Union] General Secretary, said:
‘TUC General Council Statement is a recognition of the central importance of the struggle of the Palestinian people for Justice. The CWU greatly welcomes this statement and believes it will contribute to strengthen the international campaign of solidarity with the Palestinian People.’
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT [National Union of Teachers; see here for its campaigns, including this], said:
‘NUT is very pleased to support the General Council statement on Gaza. We were absolutely prepared to put in an emergency motion, but the fact that there is a General Council statement, demonstrates that the move towards the Palestine cause has been not just in the TUC, but in the British public as a whole. The job now is to make sure that everybody begins to take the action urgently needed to ensure that there is a free Palestine and that Israel desists from all military activity.’
Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, said:
‘I welcome the General Council statement on Gaza as an expression of the widest support from the British labour movement with the Palestinian people. There is much to be done in building practical solidarity not least in mobilising our workplace representatives to take action against companies which have profited from the war in Gaza, the occupation of the West Bank and the construction of the ‘separation’ wall.’ ....
The General Council statement encourages unions to affiliate to PSC and urges union members to join the PSC Trade Union network.'See more here
The London Jewish News (a giveaway rival to the Jewish Chronicle) reports:
'News that delegates at the annual Trade Union Congress (TUC) conference in Liverpool had done so was greeted with disappointment from the Jewish community, which warned the umbrella group against double standards.
[The TUC] condemns anti-Semitism while speaking positively about anti-Semitic Hamas, and it doesn’t even mention rocket attacks on Israel,” read a statement from the Fair Play campaign, a cross-communal initiative to fight boycotts.
It supports a two-state solution, but refuses to work to make the two-state solution a reality… The TUC’s actions are instead focused on pulling Israeli and Palestinian workers further apart.
With union activists targeting the EU Israel Trade Agreement, the Fair Play spokesperson charged that the TUC decision would lay the groundwork for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in the UK.
Today’s decision will mean that the TUC will provide the infrastructure of the anti-Israel boycott movement, funding and organising its conferences and coordinating its campaigns.”
The TUC vote to boycott Israeli goods comes after UNITE, the country’s biggest union with 1.7 million members, opted to do likewise in July this year.
In Liverpool, delegates were presented with figures from the Gaza conflict, with one slide titled “Devastation” listing the number of homes, schools, hospitals, health centres and mosques destroyed.
Kathy Dyson, of the Musicians Union, spoke in support of the General Council statement on the situation in Gaza, which said Israeli action amounted to “collective punishment of a population suffering the blockade”.
“What began with a campaign against Jewish goods in the past ended with a campaign against Jewish lives,” he said.
“We need to spell out that this sort of prejudice starts with the Jews but never ends with the Jews.
We need to stand united against hate, now more than ever.”' [Emphasis added]Read more about Gove here
(And for the context of the bottom photo see here)