It is encouraging to see trade unions around the world taking principled stands in support of human rights for all and in active solidarity with the Palestinian people. Over the past month, the UK University & College Union – the largest trade union in its sector – maintained its tradition of support for Palestinian rights by endorsing the Palestinian call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, and went further to call on peak international union body Education International “to seek similar action by all affiliates”. In Brazil, the new trade union federation, CSP-Conlutas, pledged its endorsement of the Palestinian BDS call, seeking to focus its efforts on Israeli companies operating in Brazil. An Australian chapter of Artists Against Apartheid launched in Sydney in mid-May, endorsing the Palestinian BDS call and seeking to adhere to the PACBI guidelines for an international cultural boycott of Israel. In Palestine, a new Palestine Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS) was launched at a conference on 30 April, which saw a broad front of Palestinian trade unions pledge their support and endorsement of the 2005 BDS call from Palestinian civil society. Former ACTU President and current ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, celebrated May Day in Palestine this year, joining Palestinian workers and families on a march and rally in Ramallah along with colleagues in the PGFTU. All these articles can be viewed on the AUSPalestine NEWS page.
In April 2011, a delegation of senior UK trade union representatives visited Palestine. Their report was recently published and left little doubt as to the impact of their experiences in Palestine, the delegation stating clearly that they were “deeply concerned about the testimonies and accounts they heard.” The report was unequivocal in its recommendation that “an effective BDS campaign [is] virtually the only viable option for building international pressure to bring about a change in the situation.” Access the UK Trade Union Delegation Statement on the AUSPalestine REPORTS page.
Also recently released is the ILO’s Annual Report on the situation for workers in the occupied Arab territories. According to the report, despite some improvements in the movement of people, no significant change to the better regarding the situation of these workers has taken place during the past year. The report notes that such change cannot take place “unless the restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation, and the occupation itself, are removed.” Access the ILO Annual Report on the AUSPalestine RESOURCES page.