Palestinian unions issue May Day call for solidarity

PV staff  

As Israel’s genocidal siege of Gaza continues, with Benjamin Netanyahu insisting that the ground attack on Rafah will occur regardless of whether or not a hostage deal is reached, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions – Gaza Strip (PGFTU-Gaza) has issued a call for solidarity to the global labour movement.

The PGFTU-Gaza’s appeal coincides with International Workers’ Day on May 1, as well as Nakba Day on May 15. The 300,000-member labour body is calling for workers throughout the world “to take a stand in solidarity with Palestine by joining us in collective action to disrupt business as usual.”

Specifically, the PGFTU-Gaza is asking for workers and unions throughout the world to take action “to disrupt the flow of commerce and trade that sustains Israel’s military occupation and exploitation of Palestinian workers.”

The call notes that the people of Gaza are facing a genocide through Israel’s actions which include mass bombardment, enforced starvation, forced displacement and land seizures and dispossession. The PGFTU-Gaza states that that the current genocidal siege of Gaza should not be viewed as a continuation of Israel’s settler-colonial policies and military occupation, dating back to the Nakba in 1948.

The organization also points to the central role of the working class in the Palestinian people’s struggle.

“Palestinian workers have always been the backbone of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice. Israel’s deliberate targeting of trade union facilities, including the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions headquarters in Gaza, along with all our offices, constitutes a flagrant assault on the very livelihoods of Palestinian workers. Despite this unrelenting onslaught, we persist in safeguarding our communities, educating children in makeshift tents, getting the news out, tending to the wounded and organizing food distribution. As Palestinian workers, we make a commitment to stand strong for our communities.

“This May Day and Nakba Day, as governments continue to turn a blind eye, we draw on the long tradition of trade union internationalism and speak directly to you: we urge you to stand in solidarity with our struggle and take decisive action to honour the countless martyrs lost and the families torn apart, and to build pressure for a free Palestine.”

Pointing to the long tradition of working-class internationalism, including the global fight against apartheid in South Africa and the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, the PGFTU-Gaza especially calls on workers in the arms and transport sectors to take action. “While we know too well the importance of decent jobs, we urge you to think about the products you manufacture and transport and where they are ultimately deployed. Decent employment should never come at the expense of countless Palestinian lives. As the ones directly affected by arms manufactured and moved internationally, we simply ask you to embrace the principle that an injury to one is truly an injury to all.

“Stand with us as we demand an end to Israel’s genocide and siege in Gaza. Stand with us as we demand our rights as workers for a decent living, free from settler colonialism and military occupation.”

The Palestinian labour organization is encouraging a number of actions that workers and unions around the world can take. These include refusing to handle goods coming from or destined to Israel; organizing work stoppages and slowdowns; conducting educational work within unions to discuss the Palestinian struggle and mobilize for action; and circulating petitions among workplaces calling for specific actions such as divesting pension funds from companies complicit in the occupation or implementing boycott measures against complicit companies.

[Photo of Cypriot workers rallying in solidarity with Gaza: WFTU]

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