The contrast between the Scottish TUC, which has given full support to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel and the British TUC couldn’t be more marked.
On the one hand the Scottish TUC is indicating it will cut its links with Histadrut, the apartheid ‘union’ that Bernard Regan, Trade Union officer of the British Palestine Solidarity Campaign says is a ‘changed animal’ on the other the British TUC is launching a campaign to Boycott Settler Goods, whilst at the same time denouncing a full Boycott of Israel.
It is to PSC’s everlasting shame that rather than protest at this attack against the call for BDS, PSC actually linked to the TUC statement without comment until it was deluged with criticism.
At a time when trade unionists were eager to show their disgust at the bombing by Israel of Gaza and Histadrut’s support for it, PSC actually held back support by defending Histadrut’s position in the Trade Union movement.
That is the reality of British PSC’s position. Politically, in its attempt to shore up waning support for 2 States, it is actually prepared to defend linking to Zionist para-state bodies by claiming they have ‘changed’ without showing an iota of evidence to support this.
Scottish TUC Congress 2010 reaffirms BDS and signals conclusion to consultations on Histadrut
At its annual meeting in Dundee this week, the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) reaffirmed and deepened its commitment to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. The STUC confirmed its participation with the South African and Irish Trade Union Congresses, and many individual trades unions around the world in building support for the call from Palestinian civil society for BDS.
The complete absence of any pro-Israel presence, lobbying or intervention from delegates was striking. In previous years US diplomats have intervened in the deliberations of Congress to lobby behind the scenes against motions from Midlothian Trade Union Council calling for BDS and a severing of links with the Israeli pseudo-trade union, the Histadrut. Whereas the recent BDS Conference in Dublin called by the Irish CTU was stunned by a self-incriminating presentation from Histadrut spokesperson Avital Shapira-Shabirow, Trade Union Friends of Israel/Histadrut, defenders of Israel’s massacres in Gaza, stayed away from the STUC Congress.
Jim Malone, FBU Regional Organiser who moved the main BDS motion to Congress, welcomed the unanimous decision by the STUC to pass the composite motion on Palestine as “a clear message of support to the Palestinian people” and said that “in condemning the Histadrut for its collusion in the continued oppression and dehumanisation process by the Zionist government in Tel Aviv, the STUC have shown the lead and look set to break its link with the government sponsored Histadrut.”
The motion also called on the STUC General Council to investigate “the long-standing links between the Jewish National Fund and Histadrut, to determine if their policies and practices are consistent with international trade union standards of equality and solidarity”. Mike Arnott of Dundee Trade Union Council, who seconded the BDS motion, writes:
“The final day, Wednesday, of the STUC Congress in Dundee proved a moving and positive one for the issue of support for Palestine. Just before lunchtime a composite motion moved by the Fire Brigades Union and seconded by Dundee Trade Union Council called on the STUC to step up their pressure on the Israeli Histadrut and the Jewish National Fund, which was unanimously supported. Congress also unanimously supported an accompanying statement from the STUC General Council which committed the STUC to take a position on recognition of the Histadrut by November of this year.
"Then an SPSC fringe meeting addressed by Jim Malone of the FBU and Yasmin Khan of War on Want was transfixed by a contribution, by live phone link, from Jamal Juma of Stop the Wall. Immediately after lunch an emergency motion from Dundee TUC condemning next week’s exhibition at Holyrood [Scottish Parliament] was unanimously adopted. Building on the STUC’s groundbreaking work on BDS it was inspiring to be a part of today’s events. Jamal Juma’s contribution both humbled all that were at the meeting and inspired us all to greater efforts on behalf of the people of Palestine.”At the same meeting Phil McGarry of the Scottish Region of RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Union) called on Scottish and other trade unionists to take the initiative in support of the Palestinians, and not to wait for developments elsewhere.
This year’s advances build on previous work. Liz Elkind said after the Congress:
"As a former member of the STUC General Council and a member of the STUC’s delegation in 2009 to meet Israeli and Palestinian trade unions, I am pleased that this year’s annual congress reaffirmed its commitment to the BDS campaign.
Israel’s trade union centre, Histadrut, must be called to account for its complicity in the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people.” (Liz Elkind is also a member of Scottish Jews for Just Peace.)
The STUC resolutions follow similar progress in the Irish CTU. It should also be seen in the context of a damning criticism of Israel’s criminality by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, who said that “you can’t have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in”.
It also comes on the heels of a landmark ruling by a Scottish Court that opposition to Israel’s ethnic cleansing has nothing in common with anti-Semitism. Even before Israel’s most recent massacres in Gaza, a majority of the members of the present Scottish Government Cabinet had publicly signed up to “an important message to the Palestinian people expressing Scotland’s disgust at their treatment at the hands of the Israeli Government.”
Accompanying the main motion, a statement on behalf of the STUC General Council announced the opening of the final period of consultation on the role of the Histadrut. Resolutions, however, are only resolutions. Scottish PSC and the broad movement of support in Scotland for Palestinian freedom needs to work during the next five months to develop awareness and commitment among the members of individual Scottish trade unions.
To help in this, the STUC has produced a BDS campaign pack for members and we need to help distribute these to branches and individual trade union members. The SPSC factsheet series also covers the Histadrut and the JNF; they all need to get the widest distribution among trade union activists and members.
We urge trade union and civil society organisations, wherever they may be, in Palestine, around the world, and in Israel, to submit documents to the Scottish TUC General Council explaining why the Histadrut and the JNF are key institutions in the Zionist programme of dispossession of the Palestinians and, thus, to be boycotted.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- to order sets of SPSC Factsheets (also available for download from www.scottishpsc.org.uk)
- organise a presentation or a speaker for a discussion on the Histadrut and the JNF at your trade union branch meeting
- to request your copies of the STUC BDS campaign pack
Scottish TUC Motions
Composite P – Palestine (covering motion nos. 104, 105, 106 and amendment)
“That this Congress notes that a year after the barbaric onslaught of Gaza, the collective punishment and near imprisonment of its people by the Israeli occupation forces continues. Congress recognises, however, that the Government is complicit in allowing Israel to continue to act with impunity.
“Congress is proud of the STUC’s history of support for the rights of the Palestinian people and welcomes the efforts of the General Council to carry forward the 2009 resolution on boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel, alongside COSATU and the ICTU.
“Congress applauds the work by the FBU in supporting Palestinian workers through the visit in November 2009 to Scotland of eight firefighters from Nablus.
“Congress asks the General Council to:
- Condemn the Histadrut statement, regarding the attacks on Gaza;
- Campaign against the complicity of our politicians;
- Continue STUC’s review of its relationship with Histadrut, including the long-standing links between the Jewish National Fund and Histadrut, to determine if their policies and practices are consistent with international trade union standards of equality and solidarity; and
Encourage positive investment in Palesitnian public services throughout the Scottish Trade Union Movement, with the creation by the STUC of a training/skills forum for Palestinian workers, following discussions with the relevant organisations, such as the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.”
Mover: Fire Brigades Union
Seconder: Dundee TUC
Supporter: Midlothian TUC
Original motions can be found here: