TUC votes to extend Israeli boycott
Britain's trade union movement has sent its strongest ever message of support for the Palestinian people by calling for boycott and disinvestment from firms that profit from the occupation and illegal settlements.
The TUC Congress unanimously passed the composite motion moved by transport union TSSA and seconded by GMB.
Delegates denounced the Israeli government for the continuing occupation of Palestinian lands and the assault on the Mavi Marmara flotilla in May, in which nine solidarity activists were killed.
Delegates were also unequivocal in condemning Israel's Histadrut trade union federation, which backed the murderous attack on the flotilla.
The TUC general council will now stand shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unionists and Britain's Palestine Solidarity Campaign in pressing for an end to the siege of Gaza, a full inquiry into the flotilla attack and progress towards a "free Palestine."
Moving the motion, TSSA president Andy Bain accused the Israeli government of "ethnic cleansing" against the Palestinians and urged delegates to go out and "make the boycott work."
He said: "The occupation has seen industries taken over. You are moved off your land and walls are built to divide people from their land."
But Mr Bain made clear his opposition to any anti-semitism, insisting: "We are not against Jews - we are against the actions of the Israeli state."
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said the two-state solution was the only way to secure peace in the region.
"But we must do more than pass resolutions or spout pious words to ease our guilt," he said.
Although welcoming a subclause in the motion supporting dialogue with the Palestinian trade unions and Histadrut, Mr Kenny made no apology for calling for "targeted boycotts" against companies benefiting from the occupation.
"There are household names making profits on the backs of a war of oppression. Their hands are very dirty and we will demand that these companies verify their supplier," he said to multiple applause.
Supporting the motion Unison delegate Mike Kirby recalled his experiences of being on the STUC delegation to Palestine last year.
Mr Kirby said: "We condemn the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli state and the Histadrut decision not to join the court of international condemnation."
Partway through the debate, several delegates made a visual show of support for Palestine workers, with many holding Palestinian flags in solidarity.
PCS delegate Hugh Lanning praised the TUC for bringing a "better composite motion than last year," identifying it as a "clearer policy because we are united in our position."
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber expressed the support of the general council for the motion, demanding that the "siege of Gaza must end."
An international convoy bound for Gaza will set off on Saturday to bring much-needed aid to the region.