Top Scottish trade union body supports Israel boycott

STUC General Council calls for boycott, disinvestments and sanctions against Israel "until it complies with international laws and agreed principles of human rights."

durban II palestinian woman 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
durban II palestinian woman 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
LONDON - The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), the umbrella organization of all trade unions in Scotland, has voted unanimously to endorse a boycott of Israeli goods at its annual conference in Perth, central Scotland. The STUC also voted to "review" its relationship with the Histadrut at the three-day conference, which finished on Thursday, and now joins the Irish Trade Union Congress, which voted to support a boycott of Israel in 2007. At the conference, the STUC General Council presented a report calling for a boycott, disinvestments and sanctions against Israel "until it complies with international laws and agreed principles of human rights." The call was supported by a plea to all Scottish trade unions to support the boycott, divest in Israeli companies and call for sanctions. Speaking before Wednesday's debate, STUC general-secretary Grahame Smith said that "the STUC General Council is recommending support for boycott and calls for sanctions against Israel because of its attacks on the human rights of Palestinian people and its breaches of international laws." The decision to boycott followed a two-year "consultation" process. In February, a delegation of STUC members visited the region and met with Histadrut and Palestinian trade union representatives. The delegation also laid a wreath at the grave of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. Following the visit, Smith called for a "divisive" boycott. "On our recent visit to Israel and Palestine, we witnessed the human rights violations experienced by ordinary Palestinians on a daily basis. We saw how restrictions on movement and checkpoints prevent people from going to work, to school and to visit their families even when they are sick and dying," he said. "We heard powerful arguments from [Palestinian Human Rights Organization] al-Haq, outlining how Israel is in breach of the Geneva Convention and the need for other signatories to international laws to hold Israel to account," he continued. Smith went on to say the STUC had "carefully considered" the complex issues involved, and concluded, "We believe that we have a moral obligation to show solidarity to Palestinian people. STUC calls for divisive boycott of Israel." Commenting on the decision, Roger Lyons, chair of Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI), said, "It's a sad day when fellow trade unionists take such a one-sided, totally unproductive approach to the Israeli-Palestinian situation. "Instead of calling for disruptive boycotts, we believe that the British trade union movement should be aiding their Israeli and Palestinian counterparts in lending practical solidarity and support for positive cooperation," he said. "All this boycott will do is divide the two communities further." Lyons said TUFI would continue to work with progressive unions across the world that "are endeavoring to work for trade union values with both Israelis and Palestinians."