“We welcome the passing of this important motion which confirms the enduring support of the British trade union movement for the Palestinian struggle for liberation.”
By the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
A motion condemning Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and in support of the right to boycott was passed overwhelmingly by the Trades Union Congress today. Submitted by the National Education Union, with the full support of the General Council, the motion called for opposition to the Government’s Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) bill, better known as the anti-boycott bill.
The motion calls for support for the Right to Boycott coalition of more than 70 civil society organisations convened by PSC, including Unite the Union, UNISON, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Liberty, the Quakers, the Methodist Church, the Muslim Association of Britain and Na’amod: UK Jews Against the Occupation. It confirms TUC’s agreement with the position of the coalition that the bill “would undermine ethical investment and procurement by public bodies by restricting the consideration of human and workers’ rights, international law and environmental concerns, linked to the behaviour of a foreign state. It damages freedom of speech, local democracy, devolution and pension scheme members rights.”
The Labour party leadership has confirmed that it will oppose the Bill at 3rd reading but has publicly agreed with the characterisation of the BDS campaign against Israeli oppression as problematic. In a direct contrast to this position, the TUC motion rejects “any attempt to delegitimise the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions and to suggest that Palestinians should be denied the right to appeal to people of conscience for support.”
Ben Jamal, PSC Director, said:
“We welcome the passing of this important motion which confirms the enduring support of the British trade union movement for the Palestinian struggle for liberation, and its opposition to the Government’s attempts to repress the BDS movement. The motion importantly rejects any attempt to delegitimise the Palestinian call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel and companies supporting its oppression and support for that call here in the UK . We urge the Labour Party leadership to pay heed to this overwhelming vote by a body representing millions of British workers, including thousands of Labour Party members.”
You can read the full text of the motion below:
Motion 73 and amendments
The current right-wing Israeli Government, having launched its biggest military incursion in the West Bank in two decades, is announcing new illegal settlements, expelling Palestinians from East Jerusalem and Masafer Yatta, demolishing homes and schools, and failing to prevent armed settlers from rampaging through villages killing and attacking Palestinians, destroying homes and agricultural lands.
The Israeli military has this year killed more than 180 Palestinians.
Congress further notes:
The Government’s Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill would undermine ethical investment and procurement by public bodies by restricting the consideration of human and workers’ rights, international law and environmental concerns, linked to the behaviour of a foreign state. It damages freedom of speech, local democracy, devolution and pension scheme members’ rights.
The legislation would shield the Israeli government from accountability, alongside companies complicit in its occupation, by legislating to silence those trying to achieve change.
Any attempt to delegitimise the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions and to suggest that Palestinians should be denied the right to appeal to people of conscience for support, must be rejected.
The ability of public authorities, including public sector pension funds, to divest from companies responsible for violations of human rights should be defended.
Such legislation could have blocked the boycott of goods and companies complicit in Apartheid South Africa.
Congress resolves to:
Reaffirm support for Palestinian rights, including our commitment to “boycott the goods of companies who profit from illegal settlements, the Occupation and the construction of the Wall”.
Support the Right to Boycott coalition Campaign with affiliates against the Bill.
- You can view the Right To Boycott coalition statement and signatories here.
- You can read the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) page on the Right To Boycott here.
- Join the PSC here; and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Louise Regan, National Education Union (NEU) has recently written on defending the Right to Boycott in Labour Outlook, you can read it here.