News 2010 (July-December)

15 December 2010 (Israel): Israel refuses entry to Palestinian firefighters being honored for Carmel fire assistance
Israeli officials on Tuesday canceled a ceremony planned to honor the Palestinian firemen who assisted in battling the Carmel fire last week, after a number of crew members were refused permits to cross the border… The Palestinian Authority said in response that it had sent its firefighters out of “humane responsibility” and could not understand why those who risked their lives were now refused entry into Israel.

10 December 2010 (Palestine): A tale of two cleaners: low wages and the gender pay gap in the West Bank
‘Cleaners get paid different amounts here. If you are a married man with children, you get an extra 10 dinars a month for each child. But the families of women do not get this extra payment. I have told them about this and I am told that they cannot help because I fall outside of the system. I don’t feel secure and I don’t have stability.’

10 December 2010 (Palestine): Working under occupation: transport workers in the West Bank
‘As a sector, we have really felt the effects of the occupation. At the checkpoints, there can be several hours of waiting, sometimes in the heat which can really affect the goods that you are carrying. There is no free traffic movement for truck drivers.’

10 December 2010 (Palestine): Women organising women in the West Bank – the new kindergarten workers union
‘Of course they will not accept us and they will try to resist and maybe we will even run the risk of being fired, but we want to make a difference so we will keep on going.’  Jenin is one of the largest cities in the West Bank, situated between Nablus and Nazareth in the north. On a Saturday morning, I met with a group of ten women kindergarten teachers from Jenin who had been working together for over a year to organise the sector and to set up a brand new union. Today the women were gathering to plan for their forthcoming conference to formally establish the new Jenin kindergarten trade union.

6 December 2010 (International): ITUC says “Now is the time for serious negotiation”
“Working for peace and respect for international law are primary responsibilities entrusted to the ITUC by our member organisations worldwide, and we will prioritise this issue at our forthcoming General Council. Convincing the governments in Israel and Palestine to resume meaningful peace negotiations is critically important, as is the full support of the international community,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

26 November 2010 (Australia): ASU Victorian Private Sector union joins the boycott call
Another state branch of the Australian Services Union, the Victorian Private Sector Branch, has passed a resolution at its October conference declaring: “As we believe that international law should be upheld, we resolve to support consumer boycotts of products made in the illegal settlements, as well as consumer boycotts of companies who assist in, or profit from, the occupation of Palestinian territories… We resolve to continue to participate in these boycotts and our divestment under the banner of the international BDS movement until Israel abides by international law as detailed above.”

26 November 2010 (Australia): CEPU Communications Division Victoria passes resolution to boycott
The Victorian State Branch of the CEPU Communications Division Postal & Telecommunications Union passed a strong resolution in October saying: “In solidarity with Palestinian unions we resolve to offer our full support to the global Boycott Divestment & Sanctions campaign, including a consumer boycott on companies profiting from the occupation, until such time as Israel abides by international law.”

24 November 2010 (Ireland): TEEU votes to boycott Israel
At its biennial conference last weekend, the Irish Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) unanimously voted to “support a boycott campaign of Israeli goods and services and a policy of disinvestment from Israeli companies” as a result of the Israeli state’s continuing breaches of international law and human rights abuses against the people of Palestine.

17 November 2010 (Australia): Queensland unions endorse boycott of Israel
The Executive of the Queensland Council of Unions adopted on 17 November a resolution calling on ACTU and ALP to genuinely support a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict. The resolution concludes: ” The Queensland Council of Unions Executive condemns violence in all its forms, condemns racism including anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination against individuals based on their race or religion.
Further, until such time as human rights, International Law and United Nations Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions are adhered to in order to bring about a just and viable two state solution as above we resolve to support:
♦ non–violent resistance through the international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Campaign against Israel to bring about an end to the illegal occupation
♦ a consumer boycott of Israeli goods
♦ a consumer boycott of all companies who assist or profit from the occupation
♦ a  review of our union investments and divestment from Israeli companies
♦ research/investigations into union superannuation funds to identify investments held with Israeli companies and companies supporting the occupation with a view to pursue divestment of those companies (based on ethical grounds).”

20 October 2010 (South Africa): Union condemns Israeli refusal of unionists’ travel
The largest public sector union in South Africa, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) has reiterated calls for comprehensive  boycotts and sanctions against Israel, which has refused to allow Palestinian unionists to come to the South African union’s congress. “Two Palestinian comrades from the General Union of Palestinian Workers, Comrade Mohammed N.S Yahya and Comrade Mohmoud K.I Ibrahim, were detained and denied permission to travel by the Israeli police on their way to attend the NEHAWU 9th National Congress on 27-30 September 2010… “The international mobilization of the Anti-Apartheid movement was one of the critical pillars of our liberation struggle, which was geared at a globally enforced sports, cultural boycott, economic sanctions and political isolation of the Apartheid regime. We encourage everyone to participate in programmes aimed at isolating the brutal Israel regime and we commend the decision by the Ministry of Tourism to stay away from the 86th Session of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Tourism Committee conference to be hosted by Israeli in Jerusalem.”

15 October 2010 (Australia): “Australian” article about unions and ACTU policy
“Australian unions are signing up to an international campaign to boycott Israeli goods. But a fight is brewing over a proposal for the Australian Council of Trade Unions to endorse the movement. The broad-based divestment and boycott campaign is targeting companies that profit from the Israeli settlements. The Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, the Queensland branch of the Rail Tram and Bus Union and the Finance Sector Union have all passed a resolution supporting the international campaign of “boycott, divestment and sanctions” (BDS) against Israel. Communications Electrical Plumbing Union national secretary Peter Tighe told The Australian the electrical branch of his union had adopted the resolution and he would now take it to the broader CEPU, then the ACTU…”

12 October 2010 (International): IFJ accuses Hamas over shutdown of Journalists’ Union office in Gaza
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the action of the Hamas Internal Security department which closed down the office of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) in Gaza, accusing them of “inexcusable intrusion” in the internal affairs of Palestinian journalists.

8 October 2010 (Palestine): Letter from Gaza Academics and Students to American universities
The University Teachers Association in Palestine (UTA) and Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI) has written an open letter to eight American universities admonishing their decision to offer free study for American students at a number of Israeli universities.  The Palestinians are dismayed at this “normalisation” of ties with “Israeli academic institutions that contribute on various fronts to the ongoing injustices committed against us each day.”

23 September 2010 (Australia): Finance Sector Union in Queensland joins the call to boycott
In a resolution passed earlier this month, the Queensland state branch of the Finance Sector Union (FSU) called upon the Australian ALP and ACTU “to show genuine support for a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict”, and threw their weight behind “non-violent resistance through the International Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel to bring about an end to the illegal occupation.”

15 September 2010 (Australia): CFMEU WA praises visit of Palestinian human rights campaigner, Diana Buttu
The Spring 2010 journal of the CFMEU Western Australia Branch includes an article about the recent visit of the Palestinian human rights campaigner, Ms Diana Buttu, to their office in June.  Ms Buttu’s visit to Australia was supported by a number of unions, including the CFMEU.  Read the article pg.41 of the journal at the link above.

15 September 2010 (Palestine): Gaza journalists call for IFJ visit
Journalists in Gaza on Wednesday called for the head of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to make an urgent visit to the Gaza Strip. An IFJ delegation is currently visiting the West Bank at the invitation of its affiliate, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.

14 September 2010 (Palestine): Unions launch international anti-settlement campaign
The Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) announced Thursday the launch of an international campaign to support the decision to boycott the goods of Israeli settlements in global markets.

14 September 2010 (UK): British TUC votes unanimously for campaign of boycott and divestment to free Palestine
The Annual Conference of the British Trade Union Congress (TUC) has unanimously passed a motion “to actively encourage affiliates, employers and pension funds to disinvest from, and boycott the goods of, companies who profit from illegal settlements, the Occupation and the construction of the Wall.” [see also article on UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign website.]

10 September 2010 (Australia): Victorian Trades Hall Council passes resolution to support boycott call
The Executive body of the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) has passed a resolution adding their voice to the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel as “one way the international community can contribute toward a peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.”  The Executive pledged to promote the BDS campaign within the community, and to convey their call to the both the Federal and State Parliamentary Labor Party.

9 September 2010 (Canada): Canadian postal workers find innovative way to deliver mail to Gaza
The Israeli Post Office has put an embargo on mail to Gaza. So, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) contacted the organisers of the Canada/Quebec boat to Gaza and asked them to take Canadian mail bound for Gaza. CUPW President, Denis Lemelin, said, “The boat’s organizers have taken up our suggestion and are offering to take postcards. Our pressure tactic was successful: It forced Israel Post to produce an explanation of its actions… if we want fairness for postal workers everywhere, we need to struggle for justice everywhere.”

8 September 2010 (Australia): RTBU Queensland joins the boycott call
In a strong statement calling for “a just solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict”, the Queensland state branch of the Rail, Tram & Bus Union has condemned “the economic sanctions imposed upon Occupied Palestinian Territories … [as] a unique example of economic sanctions imposed not on the occupier, but upon a population struggling against illegal military occupation.” The statement went further to say “This Union believes that ending the occupation demands concerted and sustained pressure upon Israel including economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott.”

30 August 2010 (International): ITF calls for action on illegal Israeli settlements
At its Congress held this month, the International Transport Federation (ITF) reportedly passed a resolution condemning the “continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, the existence of illegal Israeli settlements there” and called for serious action to be taken to cease economic relations with the settlements, to condemn and take action against transport companies providing services to the settlements, and the immediate cessation of illegal settlement building.  The resolution further called for the opening of “land, air and sea points of entry and exit for trade for the Palestinian people free from interference by the Israeli occupying power.” [The full text of the final resolution is not yet available on the ITF website.]

25 August 2010 (Australia): Maritime Union in Queensland condemns “atrocious attacks”
The Queensland branch members’ meeting of the Maritime Union recently issued a statement condemning the “inhumane, illegal blockade of Gaza and the violent attacks that were waged by the Israeli Armed Forces upon the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmari…[and] the continued atrocities being committed unlawfully by the Israeli Armed Forces” against the Palestinian people.

18 August 2010 (Australia): Queensland branch of Australian Services Union passes motion to support boycott call
In a motion passed on 20 July, the ASU C&A Branch in Queensland stated unequivocally: “This union believes that ending the [Israeli] occupation demands concerted and sustained pressure upon Israel including an economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott.”  The Union’s statement also condemned the “economic sanctions imposed on the Occupied Palestinian Territories… [as] a unique example of economic sanctions imposed, not on an occupier, but upon a population struggling against illegal military occupation.”

6 August 2010 (Australia): Queensland delegates of Construction Union pass motion to support boycott
The 2010 Queensland state Delegates Conference of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) has passed a motion calling on the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Australian Council of Trade Union (ACTU) “to show genuine support for a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict based on recognition to each other’s right to exist and to live in peace within secure borders and in accordance with UN resolutions and international law.”  The delegates also called for the union’s “support for non-violent resistance through the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel to bring about an end to the illegal occupation.”

4 August 2010 (Australia): National Division of Electrical Trades Union joins boycott call
The National Divisional Conference of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) of Australia yesterday added its national strength to the call for an end to the illegal Israeli occupation and implementation of UN resolutions, and resolved to support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

4 August 2010 (Australia): LHMU Queensland joins the Palestinian call for boycott
The Queensland Branch of the Liquor, Hospitality & Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) has today issued a resolution calling for an end to the illegal Israeli occupation, and resolves to support the “peaceful measures” of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

1 August 2010 (Australia): Illawarra unions & community support people of Gaza
Almost 200 people took part in a fundraising lunch today in Wollongong to show solidarity with the 1.5 m Palestinians (more than half of them children) of the Gaza Strip, and to remember the nine people killed by the Israeli military in the Mediterranean on the peace flotilla. Representatives of various unions, mosques, Uniting Church, Aboriginal, Turkish and Arab communities  took part. Arthur Rorris from the South Coast Trades and Labor Council and Kim Sattler from Unions ACT outlined the positions their union bodies have taken on Middle East peace, and urged people to support boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel as a non-violent way to achieve justice.

24 July 2010 (Australia): Queensland Teachers’ Union votes to support boycott
The council of the Queensland Teachers’ Union passed the following resolution, seconded by the Deputy General Secretary Graham Maloney, with only two abstentions, stating “that the QTU joins the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Campaign initiated by Palestinian trade unions and civil society in 2005…”

20 July 2010 (Australia): Unionists welcome National Council of Churches vote on boycott of settlement goods
Last week, the 19 member churches of Australia’s National Council of Churches adopted a resolution on peace for Israelis and Palestinians which includes the call for consumers to boycott goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The motion was moved by the Anglican and Uniting churches, second and third largest Christian denominations in the country. “Support by civil society organisations around the world for the non-violent strategy of boycotts, divestment and sanctions to secure peace and justice for the Palestinians is rapidly consolidating across the world, ” said Kim Sattler, Secretary of Unions ACT, who recently returned from a trade union study tour of the Middle East. “Now Australian churches are joining national unions in teaching, manufacturing and construction, and regional union bodies in Wollongong, Newcastle, ACT and Geelong, as well as union branches across Australia in asking the Australian public to act on their opinions and reject products made on stolen land,” she continued. “The voice of the Christians of Australia adds to membership pressure for other trade union bodies to take a stance in support of boycotting Israel to end the illegal occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, to tear down the Wall, to give freedom to the four million Palestinians under occupation, and to ensure equal rights of all citizens in Israel.”

16 July 2010 (Italy): Italian unions call international conference on Palestine
The General Confederation of Italian Labour (CGIL) is organising an international conference on Palestine/Israel – Humanitarian crisis, worker’s rights, political scenarios and alternatives to end the conflict and the cycle of violence which has left the peace process at an impasse in the Middle East region – at CGIL (sala Di Vittorio) Corso d’Italia 25, Roma on Wednesday 21 July 2010 from 10:00 – 14:00.

16 July 2010 (Egypt): Independent Egyptian Unions hail ITUC vote
CTUWS, an independent centre of Egyptian unions, hails the election of Palestinain union leader, Shaher Sae’d, as Vice President of the ITUC and supports the resolution against the Israeli occupation.

14 July 2010 (Greece): Union protesters delay El Al flight in Athens
Members of Communist-backed labor union say they blocked five El Al counters for two hours to protest Gaza siege.

13 July 2010 (USA): Blockade! Dockworkers, Worldwide, Respond to Israel’s Flotilla Massacre and Gaza Siege
Article by Greg Dropkin in American online magazine Counterpunch regarding the dockworkers’ actions against Israeli ships in USA, Sweden, Turkey, India and South Africa.

8 July 2010 (USA): Oakland dockers stand firm as Israeli consul seeks an audience
Last night ILWU Local 10 Executive Board, after receiving a request from the Palestinian union federation PGFTU, denied permission to the San Francisco Israeli Consulate delegation to address the union…

8 July 2010 (Palestine): PGFTU letter to Oakland Dockers
The Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) to International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10, whose member workers honored the Labor/Community picket line at the Port of Oakland on June 20, 2010, leading to the historic boycott of an Israeli Zim Lines ship.

6 July 2010 (India): Indian dockworkers refuse to unload Israeli cargo
Dockworkers at the major Indian port of Cochin are refusing to unload Israeli cargo in protest of Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip.

1 July 2010 (Sweden): The blockade of the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union – what was achieved
The Swedish Dockworkers’ Union blockade of goods to and from Israel has ended. Altogether more than 500 tons of import and export goods were blocked.