Stockholm: Workers boycott Israeli ships

Week-long dock action protests flotilla raid, Gaza blockade.

June 23, 2010 15:35
1 minute read.
Demonstrators gather at Sergelstorg Square in Stoc

Sweden stockholm flotilla rally 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

STOCKHOLM — Workers at Swedish docks launched a week-long boycott of Israeli ships and cargo on Wednesday, to protest Israel's recent raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

Some 1,500 members of the Swedish Port Workers Union began the boycott at Sweden's ports which handle up to 95 percent of the country's foreign trade. The action is planned to end on June 29.

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"Even if goods arrive in trucks, dockworkers often have some role in handling them when they arrive in port," said Per Helgesson, attorney and chief negotiator at Ports of Sweden — an industry and employers' organization for the sector.

The union supported the international aid convoy and demands that Israel lift its blockade on Gaza. Several Swedish activists were on the flotilla when Israeli commandos attacked it on May 31.

Israel recently eased the 3-year-old blockade under international pressure, but union spokesman Bjorn Borg said the measure was insufficient.

"We don't think it is far-reaching enough," Borg said. "We want them to lift the blockade."

Borg said stevedores in the southwestern port of Goteborg had already refused to handle about a dozen containers containing cargo from Israel or goods destined for it.

Officials said they expected the boycott to have a minimal impact on Swedish-Israeli trade, which accounts for 0.2 percent of the Nordic country's total imports and exports.

Last year, Swedish exports to Israel were valued at 2.5 billion kronor ($320 million) and imports amounted to some 850 million kronor, according to the Swedish Trade Council.

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