BDS Movement requests international trade unions to build ties with Palestinian unions
A trade union boycott of Israel means that trade unions cut economic, social and political ties with Israel and build ties with Palestinian unions. Trade unions should respond to the BDS call that has, among others, been put forward by the major Palestinian trade unions. Palestinian workers are suffering under Israeli apartheid policies of exploitation that aim to bring in the profits necessary to maintain the occupation. Trade unions globally must transform workers solidarity into practice and ensure that they are not indirectly providing financial support to the Occupation by propping up the Israeli economy.
The organized labour movement in Palestine has, since its inception in the 1920’s, faced attacks from the Zionist movement, in particular the Histadrut. The Histadrut championed the idea of the “conquest of labour”, aiming to replace Arab workers with Jewish ones. Histadrut activists campaigned against the Jewish businessmen employing Arab workers, at times engaging in violence. The early Histradrut union structures reflected the discriminatory nature of Zionism, trying both to elevate Jewish workers above Arab ones while at the same time organizing Arab labour in separate unions linked to and under Histradrut control. Furthermore, the union actively undermined Arab strikes, supplying Jewish scab workers.
Following the Nakba, the indigenous Palestinian movement collapsed, leaving the Histradrut in full control. In 1965, the General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW) was founded to organize Palestinian labour in the West Bank and Gaza and in the diaspora. In 1986, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) was formed out of the labour movement in the West Bank and Gaza.
Labour in the West Bank in Gaza is greatly suffering on account of the Occupation. In Gaza, unemployment and poverty have skyrocketed.
In the most recent siege, Israeli jets bombed the PGFTU building. In the West Bank, both employers and workers have been hurt by the destruction of infrastructure, land theft and movement restrictions. Palestinian agricultural workers in both Gaza and the West Bank have been especially hard hit. Those in the West Bank are forced to compete, on a totally unequal level, with Israeli agro-business in the Jordan Valley while those in Gaza are unable to move their produce to do lack of fuel and Israeli closure polices.
The Occupation aims to further conquer Palestinian labour through a series of joint industrial zones wherein Palestinians will essentially work as migrant workers on their own land for low wages in poor conditions without the option to organize.
Palestinian workers living inside the Green Line face apartheid labour conditions. The Histradrut is the only trade union in Israel and continues to work on a racist framework.
It was not until 1965 that Palestinians could vote in union elections, and until today no Palestinian citizen of Israel has been a part of the high governing body of the union. Around half of legally employed Palestinians in Israel work in low-wage sectors. Palestinians are barred through a number of mechanisms from holding high-level jobs in Israel. More that half of Palestinian citizens of Israel are below the poverty line, as opposed to around 16% of Jewish Israelis. Palestinian women are grossly under represented in the Histadrut, with little being done to improve their situation. Rather than taking up these problems, the Histadrut chooses to ignore them.
Barred from building their trade union, Palestinians (within Israel) are mobilizing in workers organizations such as Sawt al Amel (Labourers Voice) to struggle for their rights.
Sawt el-Amel/ The Labourer’s Voice is an independent grassroots organization founded by Palestinian Arab workers in Nazareth in 2000, in order to defend and promote the rights of Arab citizens in Israel to work and social security. http://laborers-voice.org/
Palestinian Trade Unions and branches endorsing the Palestinian Unified Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
Name (Signatory – Position) Place Affiliation/n.a. (not affilliated)/independent
1. PGFTU (Rasem Mahmoud al Baiary – President) Gaza PGFTU
2. General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW) national (Haidar Ibrahim – Gen. Secr) Ramallah GUPW
3. General Union of Palestine Labor Vocational Associations (Hasan Sharakeh – Gen. Secr) GUPLVA
4. PGFTU (Bashir al Seesi – Head of the public service union (Gaza), national Exec. Committee member) Gaza PGFTU
5. PGFTU, (Toubas Ibrahim Daraghme – President of branch) Toubas PGFTU
6. General Union of construction workers (Ibrahim Daraghme – President) Toubas PGFTU
7. General Union of agricultural workers (Walid Shahin – Vice President) Gaza PGFTU
8. General Union of textile workers (Zaki Abd el Fatah Khalil – President) Gaza PGFTU
9. General Union of tranportation workers (Sabdi Said – Gen. Secr.) Nablus PGFTU
10. General Union of educational services (Sharif Salam – President Gaza PGFTU
11. General Union of construction workers (Sa’id Abd el Jabar el Jidan – Steering Committee
member) Nablus PGFTU
12. Union of petrochemical workers (As’ad Sabgi Ikhbariye – President) Jenin PGFTU
13. Union of public sector (Basam Maslamani – President of branch) Toubas PGFTU
14. Union of public sector (Abd Hakim as-Sbitani – President) PGFTU
13. Farmers Union (Jamil mustafa Anaya – President) Qalqiliya/Azzo PGFTU
14. Union of industrial workers and artisans (Nasser Mahmoud tawfiq – Gen. Secr.) Nablus PGFTU
15. Union of petrochemical workers (Muhammad Zuhdi al Hazam – President) Nablus PGFTU
16. Union of petrochemical workers (Zilmi Mustafa Ahmad mu’qidi – president and treasurer) Salfit/Zawiya PGFTU
17. Union of petrochenical workers (Amjad Abed Silaj – President) Nablus PGFTU
18. Union of textile workers (Na’eem Jamous – President) Nablus PGFTU
19. Union of transportation workers (Yousef Abed Rahim Aboushi – President) Toubas PGFTU
20. Union of public transport drivers (Khaled al Zaghl – President) Tulkarem PGFTU
21. Union of workers in the tourism sector (Mahmoud Ahmad Salah – President) Jenin PGFTU
22. Agricultural workers Union (Khaled al Zaghl – President) Tulkarem PGFTU
22. Union of agricultural and industrial workers (Azmi Azzat – President) Jenin PGFTU
23. Union of transportation workers (Kayed Jihad Awad – President of branch) Jenin PGFTU
24. United Council of workers Union (Bilal Ahmad – President) Ramallah PGFTU
25. Labour union front (Izam Nawaf Hammad – Steering Committee member) Arabe/ Jenin PGFTU
26. Progressive Labour union front (anonymous leadership) Gaza PGFTU
27. GUPW, Ramallah (Zahida ‘Arif Jamil al Masri – Steering Committee member) Ramallah GUPW
28. GUPW, Nablus (Arif Samhan – General Secretary) Nablus GUPW
29. GUPW, Toubas (Muhammad Jamil Yahya Sawafta – President) Toubas GUPW
30. GUPW, Jerusalem (Abdallah Sa’ed al Hindi – President) Jerusalem GUPW
31. GUPW, Jenin (Safa Ahmad Sulaiman Haj Hassan – Member of administrative committee)
32. GUPW, Ramallah (Hani Lutfi Abu Salem – Treasurer) Ramallah GUPW
33. General Union of Health Service Workers (Salamah Abu Zu’ayter – President) Gaza n.a.
34. General Union of Transport (Muhammad Juma’ Abu ‘Ajineh President Gaza n.a.
35. Union of Construction and Building (Nasri Muhammad Mahmoud Akmil – President) Jenin n.a.
36. Union of Psychologists and Sociologists (Ahmad Dawi’at – President) Nablus independent
37. Union of Municipalities and Public Sector Employees (Basam Fares Hasan Sadiq – Vicepresident) Nablus n.a.
38. Union of Educational Workers, Printers, Media & Publishers (Samir Sub’i – Pres.) Tulkarem n.a.
39. Union of Bank Employees (Abd al Halim Abu Zu’ayter – President) Gaza n.a.
40. Union of Pharmaceutical Industry Workers (Muhammad ‘Abas Ahmad – General Secretary) n.a.
41. Union of Textile Workers (Nawal Shahade – President) Jerusalem/ar-Ram n.a.
42. Union of Public Service Employees (Maysoun Ahmad Othman – President) Salfit/ Zawiya n.a.
43. Union of Construction Workers (Hani ‘Amer Muhammad Husnat – Representative) Hebron n.a.
44. Union of Food and Agricultural Workers (Muammad Sa’adi – President) Nablus n.a.
45. Union of Transportation Workers & Mechanics (Mufid Abu Zahra – Pres.) Nablus n.a.
General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW). the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). the Coalition of Independent Democratic Unions