PTUC-BDS Welcomes TUC Policy Renewing Commitment to Implement BDS Campaigns and Urging Unions to Review Relations with the Histadrut
Occupied Palestine, 15 September 2011 - The Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS), the broadest and most representative alliance of Palestinian trade and professional unions, salutes the Trades Union Congress (TUC), representing 6.5 million workers in the UK, for their most recent policy in support of Palestinian human rights.  TUC voted overwhelmingly on 14 September 2011 to “work closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign 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”. Importantly, TUC also called on “all unions on the basis of this policy to review their bi-lateral relations with all Israeli organisations, including Histadrut”. PTUC-BDS deeply appreciates this decision to review relations with Israel’s racist and colonial trade union entity and urges unions and congresses around the world to follow suit.
In commemoration of May Day, the PTUC-BDS was launched at a historic conference in Occupied Palestine on 30 April 2011 to provide the widest and most representative Palestinian reference for the international trade union movement and to help coordinate trade union solidarity efforts. Leaders of all major Palestinian political parties have warmly endorsed the formation of PTUC-BDS as the unified voice of Palestinian workers and professionals struggling to end Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonialism through effective, peaceful BDS measures.
The declaration from this hugely significant conference called upon trade unions to implement boycotts of Israeli and international companies that are complicit with violations of Palestinian rights, divest trade union funds from Israeli and international companies and institutions complicit in Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid and apply pressure on governments to cut military and trade relations with Israel, leading to sanctions. We are therefore delighted that the TUC has reaffirmed its commitment to encourage campaigns that heed this call and look forward to their implementation.
Regarding the Histadurt specifically, at the PTUC-BDS founding conference we decisively condemned the Histadrut and called on international trade unions to review and sever all links with it due to its historic and current complicity in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights. The Histadrut has always played a key role in perpetuating Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of racial discrimination by: publicly supporting Israel’s violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and other tenets of international law, maintaining active commercial interests in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, allowing Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank to join the organization, supporting Israel’s war of aggression on besieged Gaza in 2008/9; it later justified Israel’s massacre of humanitarian relief workers and activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla on 31 May 2010.
The Histadrut is also illegally withholding over NIS 8.3 billion (approximately $2.43bn) over decades of occupation from wages earned by Palestinian workers from Occupied Palestinian Territory,  deducted for ‘social and other trade union benefits’ that Palestinian laborers from OPT have never received. For all these reasons, we are heartened that TUC is urging its member unions to review bi-lateral relations with the Histadrut. As PTUC-BDS we would be most than happy to assist any such review processes in any way.
The Palestinian trade union movement has collectively set up a boycott “picket line” against Israel to hold it accountable for its violations of international law and more specifically of Palestinian workers’ rights. Over 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip – most of them working families -- have literally been imprisoned behind an illegal and immoral military siege in one of the cruelest examples of collective punishment witnessed in recent history. This year marks 63 years since the original mass ethnic cleansing of the majority of the Palestinian people from their homes and lands as Israel continues to deny them the right to return to their homes. In the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Palestinian workers continue to face daily humiliation at checkpoints and due to the illegal apartheid Wall, and suffer from a crippling economic situation that leaves them at the mercy of Israel and international donors. For example, most recently when the Israeli state decided to withhold taxes owed to the Palestinian Authority, and international donors withheld contributions, Palestinian public sector workers were left without wages for the month of July. Yet despite the military occupation and constant attacks on workers’ fundamental rights (like the right to freedom of movement), the Palestinian people remain as determined as ever to resist and to win justice, freedom and equality.
We understand these are critical times for the trade-union movement world-wide, and the UK movement specifically is gearing up to challenge some of the most severe cuts and austerity measures taking place in Europe. We stand shoulder to shoulder with you in your fight and thank you for the solidarity you continue to show to the struggle for Palestinian workers rights.
Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS)
 For the full text of the motion and amendment: http://www.congressvoices.org/2011/71-peace-in-the-middle-eastsouth-asia/
 http://www.histadrut.org.il/index.php?page_id=1801 http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/news/2422-israel-owes-over-nis-83-billion-to-palestinian-workers-from-the-occupied-palestinian-territories