Palestinian workers cross a checkpoint to work in Jerusalem
Crossing the border to work in Jerusalem. [Photo: Kris Pannecoucke/Panos]

Justice for Palestine

Promoting decent work and respect for Palestinian rights

29 November 2020, Trades Union Congress (UK)

In 2020, the TUC passed a motion stating full opposition to the Israeli government’s stated intention to officially annex parts of the West Bank in violation of international law, with such a move being another significant step in the creation of a system of apartheid, and calls to action. Whilst the TUC cannot make a legal judgement on the issue of apartheid, it is important that we root our language in international law. We recognise the use of the term ‘apartheid’ brings challenges when it is used as a comparator to South Africa. We believe we must use language carefully and not risk trivialising the critical situation for Palestinians.

The TUC calls for:

  • respect for all Palestinian rights, including the right to collective self-determination and the right to return
  • an end to the illegal occupation and a halt to further annexation.
  • support for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace that is consistent with international law and based on a two-state solution, which must promote equality and respect for human and labour rights.

We call on the UK government to publicly support the same goals and to recognise the State of Palestine.

UK trade policy and business should ensure Palestinian labour and human rights are protected and respected, and support an end to the occupation.

The TUC calls for an ethical policy on all UK trade with Israel which must include:

  • suspension of the UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement, which replicates the EU-Israel Association Agreement, until Palestinian rights are respected.
  • a ban on trade with the illegal settlements, and requiring mandatory labelling of food produced in illegal settlements in line with the European Court of Justice ruling in 2019.
  • an end to the arms trade with Israel and to military collaboration.

We also encourage affiliates, employers and pension funds to disinvest from, and boycott the goods of companies who profit from illegal settlements, the occupation and construction of the wall.

Download full report [pdf]

Download executive summary [pdf]

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Introduction to the Executive summary

Palestine is one of the worst countries in the world to be a worker. This summary sets out TUC policy and the evidence base in support of Palestinian workers’ rights. The TUC has long-standing policy in support of justice for Palestine, guided by international law and UN resolutions, as demonstrated by Congress motions passed in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Our more detailed policy positions and evidence base is available in the full report.

In order to secure decent work for Palestinians, the TUC believes we need:

  • respect for Palestinian rights, including the right to collective self-determination and the right to return
  • an end to the illegal military occupation of Palestinian territories and annexation of East Jerusalem, an end to the blockade of Gaza, and for the permanent halt to any further annexation
  • support for genuine efforts towards a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace that is consistent with international law and based on a two-state solution.

The illegal military occupation of Palestine, expansion of Israeli settlements, the blockade of Gaza and the ongoing threat[1] of official annexation contravene multiple international laws. They also undermine Palestinians’ right to collective self-determination and efforts to find a peaceful two-state solution, and have led to numerous human rights abuses over many decades. A 2019 UN report declared that the human rights situation for Palestinians “deteriorates day-by-day”.[2] Human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) include land confiscation, home demolitions, excessive use of force and torture, lack of freedom of movement, and the imposition of a two-tier system of political, legal, social, cultural and economic rights based on ethnicity and nationality.[3]

The International Trade Union Confederation’s (ITUC) Global Rights Index (2020) places Palestine in its worst ranking with “no guarantee of fundamental labour rights” due to a breakdown in the rule of law.[4] And in recognising that the occupation is a barrier to achieving decent work, the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Decent Work Programme 2018-2021 aims to support the State of Palestine’s National Policy Agenda through three pillars: i) the path to independence, ii) ending the occupation and iii) sustainable development.[5]

We recognise the importance of working with affiliates, the ITUC and like-minded civil society organisations in the UK, Palestine and Israel to progress justice for Palestine.

Read more at: TUC UK