Unite union 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
LONDON – Describing Israel as a “rogue state,” a “terror state way beyond
apartheid” and a “war state” with “no appetite for peace or coexistence,” Unite,
Britain’s biggest trade union, voted last Thursday for a complete boycott of
Israeli goods and services at its annual conference in Manchester.
motion – which accused Israel of an array of allegations including “a policy of
ethnic cleansing,” “the enforced bankruptcy of the Palestinian Authority” and
“the continued building of the apartheid wall” – passed unanimously.
result, the union, which has some two million members, will now
vigorously” promote a boycott of Israeli goods and services “similar to
boycott of South Africa during the apartheid era,” as well as a policy
divestment from Israeli companies.
The motion called a boycott “the most
effective way to ensure the Israeli government is made aware of the
opposition to its crimes against humanity.”
Four speakers spoke in favor of the
motion; no one spoke against it.
Raymond Morrell, from the London and
Eastern region of Unite’s Aerospace and Shipbuilding sector, described
a “terror state” that goes “way beyond” what South Africa once was.
Loughrey, from the union’s activist committee in Scotland and who
youth workers and the Not-for- Profit sector of Unite, called Israel a
apartheid state... It has no appetite for peace or coexistence...It is a
war country...Unite must build a boycott campaign using its might.”
European Union and British and Irish governments were also blamed for
in their obligations under international law” to challenge the
the Israeli government.
With no mention of rocket and mortar attacks on
Israel, the motion called for an annulment of the European Union-Israel
agreement and for sanctions to be imposed.
“A reasonable response would be
the imposition of political and economic sanctions.
Instead, it is the
Palestinians who have been punished by the withholding of grant aid,
criminal actions of the Israeli state are further appeased by continuing
grant them preferential trading rights,” the motion said. “The litany of
rights abuses, atrocities and war crimes should long ago have led to the
of the agreement.”
In contrast to the University and College Union, which called
to cut ties with Israel’s Histadrut labor federation at its conference
previous week, Unite wants to strengthen links with the Histadrut, but
a solidarity conference to support and work with trade unions in actions
“While we want an independent Palestinian state and will work with
all trade unionists to achieve this, we deplore the course trade unions
currently taking,” said Stephen Scott, director of Trade Union Friends
(TUFI). “Unite have had no real debate on this matter and they had not
out this fully. Thousands of Unite’s members’ jobs could be at risk
this policy and I see no one giving up their mobile phones or laptops
The Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (TULIP),
a movement working to unite trade unions and non-governmental
counter boycott calls of Israel, said the decision would not allow Unite
a constructive role in promoting peace
“The decision by Unite to support
the BDS [boycott, divestment, sanctions] campaign targeting Israel is a
setback to efforts to get unions to play a constructive role in
in the Middle East,” said Eric Lee from TULIP. “Decisions by smaller
support a boycott can be readily dismissed as insignificant, as can
decisions such as the one made by [public sector trade union] UNISON to
TUFI from having a stall at its conference next week.”
The action by
however, should “set alarm bells ringing in Israel and at the Histadrut
particular,” Lee added.
“This was a decision taken by Britain’s largest
its national conference, and is especially significant as a result. The
that the resolution was passed unanimously is particularly worrying,” he