Friday, 18 September 2009

A major breakthrough: TUC backs Israel boycotts

The best news of the week has been the TUC's decision to support a motion targeting Israel for boycotts. The TUC represents unions comprising 6.5 million working people. While a conference motion doesn't automatically translate into grassroots action across the unions, it takes us in the right direction - and encourages all of us who want to promote solidarity with Palestine in our unions.

Hugh Lanning, chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, explained the background to the press: ‘This motion is the culmination of a wave of motions passed at union conferences this year, following outrage at Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, and reflects the massive growth in support for Palestinian rights. We will be working with the TUC to develop a mass campaign to boycott Israeli goods, especially agricultural products that have been produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.’

At our local PSC meeting on Monday (I'm chair of the Tyneside group), we agreed to leaflet shoppers at Tesco in Gateshead with Boycott Israeli Goods flyers. We're also urging the store to review its policy on stocking Israeli goods. We'll be at the store, in Gateshead town centre, tomorrow (Saturday) at 11am.

It was also good to learn, in the meeting, that one of our activists will be giving a talk about her recent visit to the West Bank at a Unison branch meeting next month. Hopefully this is an opportunity that other union branches will take advantage of, especially following the TUC breakthrough. The unions have the social and political weight to make a massive difference to the movement for Palestinian freedom in this country.

A couple of our members in Tyneside are also taking part in a PSC weekend school, at the start of October, to discuss practical strategies for increasing the impact of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). It is vital we look at which actions and tactics can create the maximum effect, both in raising political awareness and having a direct economic impact.

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