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By Jonathan Kalmus

Britain’s largest union, Unite, has unanimously passed a motion to boycott Israeli companies at its first policy conference in Manchester on Wednesday.

The motion, which passed unanimously, called the union “to vigorously promote a policy of divestment from Israeli companies”, while a boycott of Israeli goods and services will be “similar to the boycott of South African goods during the era of apartheid”.

Reflecting the University and College Union’s call at their Manchester conference earlier in the week, Unite will similarly host a “Palestine conference” to support trade union action against Israel.

But at odds with the UCU’s call to sever links with Israel’s trade union movement Histadrut, Unite delegates voted to keep solidarity links. Stephen Scott, director of Trade Union Friends of Israel, said that indicates a split within the pro-boycott movement, many of whom realise such a call “is all very dangerous stuff.

“It would be huge for another trade union movement to expel them even when they are a democratic organisation and pass all the criteria of being a member of the international trade unions.”

Nevertheless, Mr Scott added: “All round, you now have a major player supporting the boycott and the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and there is no resistance.”

By Jonathan Kalmus, June 4, 2010

2 Comments

  1. Realist on the 13. Jun, 2010 remarked #

    I am an American union member. I know nothing about Histadrut, but unless they are staunch supporters of the current Israeli government and its fascist policies, then ties should be maintained. Labor has a hard enough time working against multinational corporations without breaking up into factions to fight amongst ourselves.

  2. Jonathan S on the 20. Jun, 2010 remarked #

    I am a member of UNITE and I am concerned at my UNION boycotting Israeli comnpanies.
    I left my former Union, UNISON, and joined UNITE, partly because UNITE appeared not to do this kind of undemocratic gesture politics.

    Big Unions vote on this type of measure, interfering in the politics of far away countries, at confferences attended only by the extreme union activists who can afford to go away to conferences and spend time onn such things. The average member never gets a say. In fact I only heard about the decision in the pages of the Jewish Chronicle. Nothing on the UNITE web site nor in their newsletter.

    There are two sides to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the legiotimate Israeli case is not being adequately represented.

    UNIONS should stick to their core business of standing up for the rights of their members.

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