Saturday, 14 November 2009

Shaher Sa’ed of PGFTU Scabs on Palestinian Workers – Again

Over the past 4 years the Campaign to Boycott Israel has grown by leaps and bounds. UNITE (T&G section) and UNISON have both endorsed the call, as has the Scottish and Irish TUCs. Even the British TUC has called for a boycott of the produce of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

You might think that Shaher Sa’ed, General Secretary of the Palestinian General Federation, was pleased about this. After all, he might not be elected but the support of workers around the world for the Palestinian cause is a recent phenomenon. But no. Like the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Sa’ed is also a good friend of the Zionists. Whenever the apartheid Israeli ‘union’ Histadrut makes an appearance at a trade union conference they always cite the PGFTU in their support.

After many years, last year Histadrut handed back a fraction of the money it had stolen from Palestinian workers who worked in Israel. They had ‘contributions’ deducted at source from their wages to Histadrut, who in turn did nothing for them. PGFTU and Sa’ed were more interested in getting this blood money than doing anything for those that they represent. Histadrut have used this payment, a couple of million dollars, as a PR exercise to pretend that they are in full support and solidarity with Palestinian workers.

On 9th July 2005, a call was made by a range of organisations in Palestinian Civil Society, including PGFTU, to boycott Israel and its economy and representatives. The call stated that:

‘We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.’
As my friend and comrade Roland Rance has pointed out, it was on 11th February 2007 that a ‘Statement on OCCASION OF THE WORKERS’ BOYCOTT CALLwas made which stated that:

‘It is imperative to recognize that since its inception, the Histadrut has
supported the Occupation and enacted racist policies against our workers,
denying them their rights. It has kept silent in front of Israel’s crimes
against our people throughout the decades of occupation.

We are thus asking the international trade unions to boycott the Histadrut to pressure it to guarantee rights for our workers and to pressure the government to end the occupation and to recognize the full rights of the Palestinian people."

The activities of Sa’ed and his cronies in PGFTU have not gone unnoticed by Palestinians. The Progressive Labor Action Front of the PFLP, the main left-wing Palestinian group, issued a statement

‘PLAF calls upon PGFTU to expose Histadrut and campaign actively for international labor boycott’
The Progressive Labor Action Front called upon the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions to issue a clear statement on the statement of the Zionist labor organization, the Histadrut, claiming mutual relations with the PGFTU, on September 26, 2009. The PGFTU already agreed to fully halt all relations with the Histadrut and commit to an anti-normalization position, as well as to the national Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, of which the PGFTU is a member, with a representative on its coordinating committee.

The PLAF called upon the PGFTU to immediately correct the situation and reaffirm its adherence to the decisive national commitment to the rejection of all forms of normalization, and to take action to urge international labor unions, particularly those in the European Union, to join in the boycott of the Histadrut and to fully embrace the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli occupier.

The PLAF noted that the Histadrut is engaging, as part of the world Zionist movement, in an international campaign designed to undermine international labor support for the Palestinian people and to oppose the Palestinian and international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. As part of this campaign, the Histadrut issued a statement on "peace and
co-operation" posted on the website of the International Confederation of Trades Unions on September 11, 2009.

The Histadrut statement denounced the Palestinian and international boycott campaign and called upon labor organizations to reject the united Palestinian demand for isolation of Israel. This reflects the nature of the Histadrut, which has been since its founding a basic component of the Zionist movement, based on racism, ethnic cleansing and the dispossession of the Palestinian people.

It claims various partnerships and relationships with the PGFTU and attempts to utilize these relationships to justify its anti-boycott advocacy. The PLAF called upon the PGFTU to make clear in all international labor fora that it rejects all forms of normalization with the occupation state - of which the Histadrut is one - and its racist, fascist components, and to mobilize all forces domestically and internationally in expanding boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns.

In addition, the PLAF discussed the harsh realities confronting Palestinian workers, including humiliation at checkpoints and roadblocks, unemployment caused by closure and siege, and pushing workers into "illegal" work inside Palestine 48, deprived of all rights and protections for working conditions. It called upon all components of the trade union movement in Palestine to develop their work to defend Palestinian workers in an active and influential way, and confront the occupation firmly and effectively in defense of our people.

But of course Shaher Sa’ed is more interested in his own status and that of the collaborators who run the Palestinian Authority than the needs of Palestinian workers. This statement of Shaher Sa'ed will be used by the Zionists to attack the Boycott movement. It will not succeed but it can and will cause damage, especially when one considers that the TUC leadership never wanted anything to do with Boycott, as its General Secretary Brendan Barber has made clear repeatedly.

Sa’ed has also been invited previously to Palestine Solidarity Campaign trade union conferences and events. We call on PSC and its Trade Union Officer, Bernard Regan not to invite this scab to any further events. He represents nobody, has not been elected for years, and is a friend of Histadrut, the very organisation which was responsible for founding the Israeli state.

It is an act of scabbing that is on a par with the actions of Mahmoud Abbas, who for the sake of profits from a telecommunications deal for his corrupt cronies, withdrew a motion supporting the Goldstone Report at the UN. Abbas has said he will resign but the Zionists say openly that this is merely a call by him for people to ask him to stay!! And they are right without a doubt, despite having been treated as a footstool by Israel.
It is for the Palestinians to be rid of these parasites but we ourselves in the solidarity movement and Palestine Solidarity Campaign should resolve to have nothing to do with either the Israeli sponsored Palestinian Authority or its pawns in the Palestinian trade unions, like the unelected Sa'ed.This isn't of course unknown. When the Jewish anti-fascist boycott of Nazi Germany was at its height, the Zionist movement behaved similarly, instituting the Ha'avara agreement between the Zionist Organisation and Nazi Germany, thus ensuring that Palestine of all places was where German goods could be bought in abundance! It destroyed the Boycott. And when the Jewish Fighting Organisation in the Warsaw Ghetto began its unequal fight against the Nazis, the first thing they did was neutralise or eliminate the Nazi appointed Jewish Council and the Jewish Police (mainly composed of Zionists).

The longer Shaher Se'ed and friends continue their work unhindered the more difficult it will be to build solidarity with the Palestinians because we have to fight not only the Zionists but their Palestinian collaborators.
Below is an example of Shaher Sa’eds handiwork. An article in the London Jewish Chronicle this week praising PGFTU and Sa’ed says all that needs to be said about this collaborator. The right wing in Britain’s TUC is lapping it up and Sa’ed is happy to help them.

Tony Greenstein

By Leon Symons, November 12, 2009

The leader of Palestine’s equivalent of the TUC has told a delegation of British trade unionists that they are not interested in general boycotts of Israel.

Shaher Saeed, general secretary of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), told representatives of seven unions that the organisation had so little interest in the subject it had never discussed boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and therefore had no policy on the subject.

"The only area where the PGFTU did have a boycott policy was with regard to produce from West Bank settlements. Even then, there was concern about whether that boycott could do more harm than good for the 30,000 Palestinians employed there,"

said Steve Scott, director of Trade Union Friends of Israel (Tufi), who was with the delegation that met Mr Saeed.

The delegates were Sheila Bearcroft, GMB central executive council member and TUC president 2009; Gerry Moloney, head of communications, Advance Union; Mike Dixon, national executive member, Usdaw; Robert Mooney, national executive member, Community Union; Duncan Harrod, public relations and communications officer, Community Union; and Terry McCorron, chair, Unison branch, attending in a personal capacity.

The delegates maintained a daily blog during the trip and in it, Mr Moloney wrote: "Listening to people from both communities on the subject of the proposed international trade union boycott, it is evident that all parties oppose this action. In a meeting with the Jerusalem municipality workers, one view from the Palestinian contingent was that a boycott would be more detrimental to the Arab workforce than any other."

The reason was that in the event of economic sanctions, it would cause a detrimental impact on the employment levels of their community.

On another day, Mike Dixon wrote: "There was a discussion about the boycott and it is clear that Palestinians don’t want it — all they want is equal pay and a living."

The group met high-ranking Israeli officials as well as Palestinians during the four-day trip, one of two groups that Tufi takes every year to meet trades unionists on both sides.Mr Scott said: "Both Histadrut (the Israeli union federation) and the PGFTU are working hard to improve relations. It is very important that UK unionists see and hear for themselves the views of people on the ground, rather than the one-sided rhetoric of some of the organisations in Britain."

1 comment:

  1. New report highlights Israeli exploitation of migrant workers

    There is also information on the exploration of Palestinian workers as well.
    Israel will exploit anyone and everyone if they can.


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