Unions worldwide obstruct arms supplies to Israel

By Marc Vandepitte
Nov 17, 2023
The author is a Belgian Marxist who writes for rebelion.org and investigaction.net.

When Israel unleashed its ruthless war of revenge against the people of Gaza, Palestinian trade unions appealed to their colleagues worldwide for a boycott of arms deliveries to Israel:

“As Israel escalates its military campaign, Palestinian trade unions call on our counterparts internationally and all people of conscience to end all forms of complicity with Israel’s crimes — most urgently halting the arms trade with Israel, as well as all funding and military research. The time for action is now — Palestinian lives hang in the balance.”

Belgian unions set example

The Belgian trade unions were the first to set a good example. In a joint press release they called for a stop to arms shipments destined for Israel. They refuse to contribute to the murder of innocent victims and call for an immediate cease-fire.

“We, the various trade unions active in the ground handling sector, call on our members to no longer handle flights shipping military material to Palestine/Israel, as there were clear agreements and rules at the beginning of the conflict with Russia and Ukraine.”

The Belgian example is being followed in many countries. The list grows every day.

In the United States, [the Unite All Workers for Democracy caucus (UAWD)], part of the United Auto Workers (UAW), which is currently waging a fierce battle for wage increases, is calling for a boycott of Israel.

“We watch with horror as the U.S. sends American troops to assist in an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza. We mourn the loss of civilian life. We categorically reject US support of the murderous Israeli regime in its ongoing genocide of Palestinians, which has killed over 7,000 people and injured 16,000 more in airstrikes since October 7, and has cut off water, food, and power to the population of Gaza.

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We call on the UAW to endorse and implement boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).”

The United Tech & Allied Workers of Britain (UTAW-CWU) join calls from Palestinian trade unions for the international labor movement to end all complicity and take concrete action against arms supplies to Israel.

India’s unions say, ‘No arms to Israel’

The Central Trade Union Council of India (AICCTU), which represents more than 600,000 workers, is appealing to unions for a  boycott of arms shipments to Israel.

“We extend our full support to the call by Palestinian trade unions to all workers of the world and their unions to unite and boycott manufacturing or loading of weapons and military equipment destined to Israël and its brutal war.”

Brazilian trade union CUT in solidarity with Palestine.

In Brazil, CUT, the largest trade union federation representing more than 7.4 million workers, passed a resolution pledging unwavering support for the Palestinians.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the country’s largest union with 740,000 members, adopted a resolution in solidarity with the Palestinian people, including a call for the government to “end its sale of arms to Israel.”

In Japan, the National Railway Motive Power Union of the town of Chiba (1 million inhabitants) responds to the call of the Palestinian unions. The Japanese government plans to supply weapons and financial aid to Israel, among other things. The railway association wants to prevent this: We wholeheartedly support the fierce struggle of the Palestinian people, and we will fight with all our might to overthrow the Kishida administration, a member of international imperialism: the cause of oppression of the people and the cause of war.”

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Colombia: Miners’ union says, ‘Suspend shipments’

In Colombia, the miners’ union wants a suspension of the supply of all minerals and fuels to Israel.

“As noted by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, these events ‘do not come in a vacuum’. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation; they have seen their land constantly swallowed up by settlements and plagued by violence.

“Their economy was stifled, their people displaced and their homes destroyed. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight are fading.

“The Israeli government’s response has been described by President Gustavo Petro as a situation similar to what was experienced in the Nazi concentration camps. It’s a genocide. In light of this barbarity, our president yesterday recalled the Colombian ambassador to Israel for consultations.

“We fully support these decisions and encourage the government to suspend shipments of Colombian coal and all metals and minerals to Israel as leverage for an immediate cease-fire, as demanded by civil society, human rights organizations, churches and we join as a trade union organization.

“Cease fire now!”

In Barcelona, port workers have decided not to allow materials to be sent to the conflict in the Gaza Strip. They do this for the “sole purpose of protecting the civilian population, regardless of territory. No reason justifies the sacrifice of civilians.”

The dockworkers consider it a collective “obligation” to defend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “tooth and nail.” They criticize the fact that many countries seem to have forgotten that they signed the Declaration. They point out that these human rights are “currently being violated in Ukraine, Israel and the Palestinian territories.”

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The dockers call for an immediate cease-fire and peaceful solutions to the various conflicts.

In Poland, the largest umbrella confederation of trade unions (OPZZ) is calling for an end to military cooperation with Israel.

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Joint Call of Transport Trade Unions Greece-Italy-Turkey. STOP the massacre in Palestine! STOP the Transport of Death!

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