(Updated June 21) Support for Palestinian unions' call for international unions to ban Israeli trade and ships

Palestinian trade union movement calls on international dockworkers' unions to block loading/offloading Israeli ships until Israel complies fully with international law and ends its illegal siege of Gaza

By the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, Palestine

June 7, 2010 -- The Palestinian trade union movement, as a key constituent member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls on dockworkers' unions worldwide to block Israeli maritime trade in response to Israel’s massacre of humanitarian relief workers and activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla, until Israel complies with international law and ends its illegal blockade of Gaza.

Drunk with power and impunity, Israel has ignored recent appeals by the UN secretary general as well as a near consensus among world governments to end its siege, putting the onus on international civil society to shoulder the moral responsibility of holding Israel accountable to international law and ending its criminal impunity. Dockworkers around the world have historically contributed to the struggle against injustice, most notably against the apartheid regime in South Africa, when port workers' unions refused to load/offload cargo on/from South African ships as a most effective way of protesting the apartheid regime.

Today, we ask you to join the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), which resolved not to offload Israeli ships in Durban in February 2009 in protest of Israel’s war of aggression on Gaza, and the Swedish Dockworkers Union which resolved to blockade all Israeli ships and cargo to and from Israel in protest of Israel's attack against the Freedom Flotilla and the ongoing deadly Israeli siege of the occupied Gaza Strip.

Israel’s ongoing blockade of essential food, health, educational and construction supplies is not only immoral; it is a severe form of collective punishment, a war crime that is strictly prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, that is inducing mass poverty, water contamination, environmental collapse, chronic diseases, economic devastation and hundreds of deaths. This three-year old medieval siege against 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, has been squarely condemned by leading legal experts, including UN special rapporteur on human rights, Prof. Richard Falk, who described it as constituting "slow genocide".

Israel's deplorable attacks on the unarmed ships are a violation of both international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that "the high seas should be reserved for peaceful purposes". Under article 3 of the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation of 1988, it is an international crime for any person to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, and also a crime to injure or kill any person in the process. As prominent international law scholars have recently confirmed, there is absolutely no legal justification for Israel's act of aggression against international civilian ships carrying humanitarian and developmental aid to civilians suffering under occupation and a patently illegal blockade, which has created a man-made and deliberately sustained humanitarian catastrophe. Our response must be commensurate with this crisis.

Gaza today has become the test of our universal morality and our common humanity. During the South African anti-apartheid struggle, the world was inspired by the brave and principled actions of dockworkers unions who refused to handle South African cargo, contributing significantly to the ultimate fall of apartheid. Today, we call on you, dockworkers unions of the world, to do the same against Israel's occupation and apartheid. This is the most effective form of solidarity to end injustice and uphold universal human rights.

Signed:

Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)

General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW)

Federation of Independent Trade Unions (IFU)

Palestinian Professionals Association **

Youth Workers Movement (Fatah)

Central Office for the Workers Movement (Fatah)

Progressive Workers Block

Workers Unity Block

Workers Struggle Block

Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) – part of IFU

Workers Liberation Front

Labor Front Block

Workers Solidarity Organization

Workers Struggle Organization

** Includes the national syndicates of engineers, agricultural engineers, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, lawyers and veterinarians.

Solidarity with the Palestinian people: Three-day strike against Israel commercial vessels

June 8, 2010

Dear colleagues, trade unionists and workers,

The Secretariat of the World Federation of Trade Unions has today decided to call a strike for three days at all ports of the world against Israel commercial vessels to or from Israel.

We call on all naval workers, dock workers and all workers and all unions in the ports to refuse to load or unload ships coming from for heading for Israel.

The TUI Transport of the WFTU is at the forefront of this strike. This action is a practical demonstration of the militant solidarity with the Palestinian People. This is a proof of militant solidarity against the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In this way we express our demand for an independent and democratic Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Furthermore, we demand the immediate lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

We condemn the killings of nine Turkish activists and once again we express our sincere condolences to their families.

The world working class watches with dismay the tactics of the UN and the hypocrisy of the European Union. At the same time, we are aware of the inter-capitalist competition and the dangers it creates for the peace in the region of southeast Mediterranean.

Moreover, it is clear that the Israeli government could not carry out these crimes with impunity without the support and encourage of the U.S. and its allies.

Colleagues, trade union leaders at the ports of the world, no one must remain silent! No one must remain neutral! We must act now because we are all Palestinians!

You decide the dates in the month of June for the three days of strike-boycott against the Israel policy. You choose the best way to react, the best way of showing solidarity with the heroic struggle of the Palestinian People. Let´s all act now.

Stop the blockade of Gaza now! Free, independent and democratic Palestinian state!

Messages of solidarity: General Union of Palestinian Workers e-mail: mohammed_yahya2007@yahoo.com;

TUI Transport e-mail: info@tui-transport.org;

WFTU e-mail: info@wftucentral.org

40, Zan Moreas street, Athens 11745 GREECE

Tel. +302109214417, +302109236700, Fax +30210 9214517

http://www.wftucentral.org

E-mails: info@wftucentral.org, international@wftucentral.org

Norwegian Ports Union boycotts Israeli ships

June 13, 2010 -- International MiddleEast Media Center -- Responding to calls by the Palestinian Workers Union and other calls by different workers unions and organisations around the world, the Norwegian Ports Union decided to join its Swedish counterpart in boycotting all Israeli ships starting on June 15.

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The workers will not be loading or unloading Israeli ships docking in their ports. Polls in Norway revealed that nearly half of the Norwegians support this act.

The Port Workers Union in Norway said that the boycott would be for two weeks, while the Swedish boycott would continue until June 24.

The Palestinian workers' unions appealed to Arab, regional and international workers union to take serious stances against the Israeli violations, and its deadly attack against the Freedom Flotilla leading to dozens of casualties among non-violent international activists transporting aid supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, the port workers' union in South Africa, which is an affiliate with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), also joined the calls for a boycott of Israel.

Workers unions in Palestine welcomed the stance of Norwegian, Swedish, Greek, British, Canadian and South African unions in rejecting and denouncing the Israeli attack against the Palestinians and the activists, and the ongoing illegal Israeli siege on Gaza.

United States: Victory – Israeli ship blocked from unloading at Oakland Port

June 20, 2010 -- ANSWER -- In a historic action and unprecedented action today, more 800 worker and community activists blocked the gates of the Oakland docks in the early morning hours, prompting longshore workers to refuse to cross the picketlines where they were scheduled to unload an Israeli ship.

From 5:30 am to 9:30 am, a militant and spirited protest was held in front of four gates of the Stevedore Services of America, with people chanting non-stop, “Free, free Palestine, don’t cross the picket line” and “An injury to one is an injury to all, bring down the apartheid wall".

Citing the health and safety provisions of their contract, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers refused to cross the picketline to report for duty.

Between 8:30 am and 9:00 am, an emergency arbitration was conducted at the Maersk parking lot nearby, with an “instant” arbitrator called to the site to rule on whether the workers could refuse to cross the picketline without disciplinary measure.

At 9:15 a.m, after again reviewing the protests of hundreds at each gate, the arbitrator ruled in favour of the union that it was indeed unsafe for the workers to enter the docks.

To loud cheers of “Long live Palestine!” Jess Ghannam of Free Palestine Alliance and Richard Becker of the ANSWER Coalition announced the victory. Ghannam said, “This is truly historic, never before has an Israeli ship been blocked in the United States!”

The news that a container ship from the Zim Israeli shipping line was scheduled to arrive in the Bay Area today has sparked a tremendous outpouring of solidarity for Palestine, especially in the aftermath of the Israeli massacre of volunteers bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza on May 31.

With 10 days advance notice of the ship’s arrival, the emergency Labor/Community Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People was set up. On June 16, some 110 people from unions and community came to help organise logistics, outreach and community support. Initiating organisations included the Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition, the ANSWER Coalition, the Bay Area Labor Chapter of USLAW and the Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice.

This week the San Francisco Labor Council and Alameda Labor Council passed resounding resolutions denouncing Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Both councils sent out public notices of the dock action.

The ILWU has a proud history of extending its solidarity to struggling peoples the world over. In 1984, as the Black masses of South Africa were engaged in an intense struggle against South African apartheid, the ILWU refused for a record-setting 10 days to unload cargo from the South African Ned Lloyd ship. Despite million-dollar fines imposed on the union, the longshore workers held strong, providing a tremendous boost to the anti-apartheid movement.

Today’s Oakland action, in the sixth largest port in the United States, is the first of several protests and work stoppages planned around the world, including Norway, Sweden and South Africa. It is sure to inspire others to do the same.

The goal is for a 24-hour shutdown of the docks where the Israeli ship is docked, so the protest is planned again for 4:30 pm. Click here for details of the 4:30 pm. protest.

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