Friday, September 18, 2009

TUC votes for 'targeted boycott' of Israeli goods

Bob Crow, leader of the RMT, is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Numerous trade unions are affiliated to the cause, including Andy Gilchrist’s Fire Brigades Union, which proposed the original TUC motion calling for a total boycott. After hours of acrimonious wrangling and the possibility of suspension of its Middle East debate, the TUC General Council has finally hammered out a new policy which has been greeted with euphoria by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Is not the TUC supposed to be a union of unions to co-ordinate the efforts of skilled workers to gain recognition from employers and to ensure rights to workers?

What does this have to do with condemning sovereign nations? Why should they have a Middle East policy at all? Do they have an Africa policy? An Asia policy? A North American policy? An Antarctica policy?

Ah, no.

They have no concern for the crimes and inhumanities of China, Iran, Sudan, North Korea or Zimbabwe, all of which have appalling records in ‘human rights’.

Only plucky little Israel.

The resolution of the Fire Brigades Union was actually passed, but the TUC have issued a statement which supersedes it. The official policy of the TUC is now, ‘as a result of the Gaza offensive’ to call on the British Government to:

(a) condemn the Israeli military aggression and the continuing blockade of Gaza;
(b) end arms sales to Israel which reached a value of £18.8 million in 2008, up from £7.7 million in 2007;
(c) seek EU agreement to impose a ban on the importing of goods produced in the illegal settlements;
(d) support moves to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement which provides preferential trade facilities to Israel.

It is news to Cranmer that Israeli exports come with a convenient label which says 'these goods are produced on an illegal settlement'.

And since they do not, this 'targeted boycott' is nothing of the sort: it is effectively a call to boycott all Israeli exports.

But this policy is deemed by the TUC to be a moderate and proportionate response to Israel’s 'campaign of terror' in Gaza, for they insist it falls short of the total boycott demanded by Andy Gilchrist, which would have been ‘divisive and counterproductive’ They assert that this policy constitutes ‘meaningful help to the people in Israel and Palestine’ – ‘the sensible voices of the TUC have prevailed’.

But the ‘sensible voices’ have succeeded in pushing through a policy in which the TUC says it ‘will support a boycott (where trade union members should not put their own jobs at risk by refusing to deal with such products) of those goods and agricultural products that originate in illegal settlements — through developing an effective, targeted consumer-led boycott campaign working closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign — and campaign for disinvestment by companies associated with the occupation as well as engaged in building the separation wall’.

The statement also says it will encourage unions ‘to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and to raise greater awareness of the issues’.

Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, has issued the following statement:

The TUC’s leaders should hang their heads in shame at this reckless call for a boycott. They have betrayed their own constituency by allowing the TUC to be hijacked as a political tool for extremists. This one sided approach subjects the State of Israel to a despicable double standard not experienced by any other nation, including dictatorships such as Libya, which recently celebrated the return of a convicted mass murderer.

The boycott statement fails to acknowledge Israel’s obligation to protect its citizens from terror and issues no calls on Gaza’s ulers or the Arab world to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns. The statement’s condemnation of rocket attacks is nothing but flimsy lip-service, and does not in any way sufficiently address the suffering of Israel’s citizens, in the face of years of terror from thousands of Hamas missiles.

Any boycott will inflict harm and hardship on workers throughout Israel, both Jew and Arab alike. Boycotts would not promote progress or understanding, but would be a slap in the face to all those who sincerely campaign for peace.
Both Prime Minister Brown and Foreign Secretary Miliband have condemned boycotts of the State of Israel. We will continue to strive to prevent such motions, in cooperation with Israel ’s friends within the TUC, who recognise the absurdity of this motion.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews have said:

We are genuinely saddened that, in passing the FBU motion and adopting elements of the General Council statement, the TUC have damaged their ability to act as an honest broker building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians. The TUC has a noble record as a positive and unifying element in British life and in international relations. This new policy will only create discord and divisiveness, masking a pro-boycott agenda behind the smokescreen of opposition to settlements.

The TUC has committed to a supporting a two-state solution. They have asked unions to fund joint Histadrut/PGFTU projects. These constructive positions are totally incompatible with the decision to work closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an organisation whose own logo wipes Israel off the map.

The Jewish community has many friends in the heart of the Trade Union movement, some of whom fought for a more balanced position. We are grateful to them. However, we made it clear to TUC leaders before their conference that a ‘deal’ which retained the language of boycotts would not address our concerns.

The fact that within moments of this statement was released conference delegates voted for a another extreme hardline pro-boycott motion proposed by the FBU is evidence that our concerns are well placed, and that TUC leaders must act against the harmful influence of the PSC within their unions. We insist that TUC leaders immediately clarify that this motion does not stand as TUC policy.

Israel's strong, independent trade union movement works closely with the Palestinian trade unions to protect the rights of all workers. It is particularly ironic that implementation of the TUC’s policy will harm the employment of many of those Palestinians.

Our communal leaders will respond robustly to this policy, which risks driving a wedge between British Jews and the Trade Union movement. Our response will be threefold:

Firstly, we will be asking the TUC leadership to act swiftly and decisively to reassert their opposition to a boycott of Israel, and advise their member unions accordingly. We expect the General Council's statement to be used as a licence to boycott by anti-Israel activists.

Secondly, we will actively expose the discriminatory politics of the PSC, in order to frustrate their hijacking of Trade Unions to promote their anti-Israel and anti-peace agenda.

Thirdly, we will be encouraging members of our own community to fight back, by getting involved in Trade Unions and speaking out.

Why is the TUC not concerned with the suffering of Israelis? Where is their policy for the protection of Israelis from Palestinian terrorists? If the TUC insists that Israel has a right to self-defence, how can an arms embargo be justified?

Must be Socialist logic.

It is worth reminding the TUC that successive Israeli governments have shown that they are prepared to return land taken in the defensive War of 1967 but only in exchange for recognition of Israel and a commitment to peace. Even though neither Hamas nor Fatah has agreed to this, Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and Sinai before that.

But Cranmer simply wants to know how a 'targeted boycott' of Israeli goods in order to increase pressure on the Israeli government to end the ‘illegal occupation’ of ‘Palestinian territories’ improves the working rights of British Firemen.

And he will now make a point of squeezing a few Jaffas.


Blogger True Belle said...

Good article, thank you .

I would not normally comment on organisations that I know nothing about but are these TUC people greater than Government?

I assumed it was the name of a crumbly biscuit.

This workers party ought to be challenging the EU about the petty regulations that are swamping hard working British artisans and the cost in time and cash to each individual who has to abide by them.

What about our light bulbs then?

My Jaffa grapefruit is my choice and my right to eat from a chosen source should never be interferred with.

18 September 2009 at 09:09  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Andy Gilcrap needs a good kick up his junketting, champagne guzzling arse.

18 September 2009 at 09:17  
Anonymous Kwelos said...

Buy Israeli products and sod the TUC!

18 September 2009 at 09:40  
OpenID jobtwenteewun1to3 said...

Gilcrap guzzles champagne through his arse??? And there was me thinking the main use he has for his arse was to talk through it.

18 September 2009 at 09:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sticking to my Ateroid policy.

18 September 2009 at 10:08  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Does anyone know if there is any way I can boycott goods & services provided by members of unions in the TUC? Seriously.

Similarly, does anyone know where I can find a list of Israeli goods so I can go and purchase them instead of those made by gobshite socialists?

My sop to socialism is by showing solidarity with our comrades in the IDF by going here

18 September 2009 at 10:09  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Thanks Kwelos for answering my question before I'd asked it! [Your post wasn't there when I started writing mine!]

18 September 2009 at 10:12  
Anonymous Stuart said...

I am so glad you have blogged about this.

This move by the TUC has sickened me to my stomach and is despicable frankly!

Oh and when did the Fire Brigades Union suddenly become long-time experts in matters of foreign policy? (That was irony)

18 September 2009 at 10:24  
Anonymous drew3000 said...

Well then, I guess they will have to start labeling exports from illegal settlements properly or do something to stop exports from the illegal settlements from leaving in the first place. Or better yet, just stop having them. Seems easy enough for such a technologically and culturally advanced oasis in the Middle East that likes to say it's committed to "peace."

18 September 2009 at 10:48  
Blogger Stuart said...

(different Stuart from above)

I think I'll contact my local firestation and find out what they think of this.

If anybody else wants to do the same follow this link to get the details of English brigades.

18 September 2009 at 10:58  
Anonymous Maturecheese said...

Your Grace
The Unions are getting too big for their boots again, forgetting what they are supposed to be about. This does not bode well for the future. Just when the country(those of us that belong here and actually care) needs to pull together to combat the dire economic situation we are in, the unions will no doubt do their best to finish us off.

18 September 2009 at 11:31  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The TUC is a joke. The cartoon carthorse of yesterday is an irrelevance today. No other major country even gives airtime to these ignorant fools pontificating as if in the Hall of Deputies in Moscow.

They are simply shooting off because they have a captive political arm rather as the IRA has Sinn Fein. Whether you think the bombast is backed by strike action as the words of Sinn Fein supposedly hint at armed thuggery is for you to decide, but in the modern world where the former Italian PM thinks only Germany will qualify for the G-7 among EU nations by 2020 - it is probably time to ignore these self-appointed tribunes and let their members vote directly on their remuneration

18 September 2009 at 11:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am curious -- did the TUC make any comment on the latest revelations concerning the British government's appeasement of Libya? Has it ever condemned the violence by Islamists directed against non-Muslim peoples in the MidEast? As it ever taken a stand against the increase in sharia courts in the UK?

Or, is it that only Israel is the target of its concern?

18 September 2009 at 12:26  
Anonymous IOld Grumpy said...

I've made a mental note to buy as many Israeli made goods and stuff as possible over the next few months....especially in order to p*ss off the loyal brothers.

18 September 2009 at 13:24  
Anonymous Anguished Soul said...

Oh no! I expect Genesis 12.3 to come into effect upon the TUC and the FBU because of their anti-semetism.

Of the TUC, I care not one jot, but firemen, it's a different matter. I think they do a fantastic job in very difficult circumstances and the one thing they do not need, is the Lord's judgement coming upon them because of some sad, deluded fool in the union!


18 September 2009 at 14:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well the left has always been anti-Jewish, this is simply being consistant.

The left oppossed going to war against hitler, until papa joe was attacked.

Attacks against Jews are increasing across Europe and the left says and does nothing.

Israeli films are attacked and boycotts started against film festivals hosting them by the normal suspects.

So no suprise to me that the TUC adopts this evil policy.

Remember, Jews and Christians are bad, hamas are great and wonderful.

18 September 2009 at 14:13  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

I shall be buying Israeli goods. As will many members of trades unions.

We are sick and tired of our unions being run by members of the Socialist Workers Party.

The Left-liberal elite are doing this beacuse they believe they are morally superior to us.

They are, of course, nothing but cloth-cap and donkey-jacket wearing racists.

18 September 2009 at 14:56  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

And another thing. Why does the Left-liberal elite see itself as morally superior when to drive forward with great energy the agenda of moral relativism?

Because it believes in moral relativism for the rest of us (divide and rule) but believes in another moral position for itself: Absolute Moral Relativism. For if it is absolute it must be superior to moral relativism.

18 September 2009 at 15:10  
Blogger Frugal Dougal said...

Something for the TUC to think about. JIDF (Jewish Internet Defence Fund) says, go on, boycott Israel!

18 September 2009 at 15:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the opportunity of living in Israel or living in Gaza, I suspect Crow would choose israel every time.

18 September 2009 at 15:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you need to get some facts right.

As a member of the ITUC, the UK TUC is just one union confederation within a wider network of unions from across the globe. They are therefore a part of a broad international element of civil society which is able to articulate the views of its membership to Governments and international agenices and NGOs. Therefore, it has a perfect right, infact need, to take positions on important international issues.

It does, infact, have campaigns running in defence of trade union rights in Zimbabwe, Iran, Iraq, Burma and Colombia to name a few other countries. Which kind of undermines your point about picking on Israel.

The delegates at TUC conference and the Trade Union representatives on the TUC General Council are all elected by rank and file trade union members. They are, therefore, representative and accountable to the 6.7million trade union members in England and Wales.

The TUC General Council statement takes precedent over the FBU motion, so bear that in mind.

Oh and Andy Gilchrist hasn't been FBU general secretary for about 2 years. Its Matt Wrack now.

Get your facts right before blogging out of your arris.

18 September 2009 at 16:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last post was from the TUC themselves.

18 September 2009 at 16:59  
Blogger Terry Hamblin said...

The TUC has been irrelevant since 1979. Why give them publicity?

18 September 2009 at 18:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time for an Act of Parliament dissolving the TUC, I think. They don't represent anyone, except the jobs-for-life types like Scargill, exploiting the working man by exciting grievances for their own well-paid benefit. The whole union movement needs to be reformed. While the likes of Bob Crow, apparently leader-for-life of the RMT, are in office, the movement is rotten.

18 September 2009 at 19:31  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

"As a member of the ITUC, the UK TUC is just one union confederation within a wider network of unions from across the globe. They are therefore a part of a broad international element of civil society which is able to articulate the views of its membership to Governments and international agenices and NGOs. Therefore, it has a perfect right, infact need, to take positions on important international issues".

Excellent - we await your condemnation of Chinese repression in Tibet, Mugabe's persecution of White farmers in Zimbabwe; North Korea's enslavement of its own people; Hamas using a human shield in Gaza whilst it lobs missiles at Israeli settlements and the current President of Iran who seems to be a holocaust-denier

18 September 2009 at 21:20  
Anonymous len said...

The T U C is a dinosaur well past its sell by date.( A bit like this Government)

18 September 2009 at 21:25  
Blogger Miss Jelly bean said...

I attended a talk by Jeff Halper a couple of weeks ago, which was held in london. He gave a very interesting and unique Jewish perspective on the israeli-paelstinian issue.

I would recomment, Cranmer, that you listen to it if/when you have time, through the link i have provided below. I'm sure you'll have alot to say about it.


18 September 2009 at 21:36  
Anonymous St Bruno said...

After the demise of Israel and the scattering of yet again the Jews from their lands if there are any left, where will the Jihad focus on next?
All non-believers beware; it might be already too late to save yourselves from the eastern hordes.

18 September 2009 at 21:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Excellent - we await your condemnation of Chinese repression in Tibet, Mugabe's persecution of White farmers in Zimbabwe; North Korea's enslavement of its own people; Hamas using a human shield in Gaza whilst it lobs missiles at Israeli settlements and the current President of Iran who seems to be a holocaust-denier"

Well, if you bothered to look at the TUC website and get the facts, you'd notice that while North Korea may be absent there are high profile campaigns for trade union freedom in Iran and partnership work with the ZTUC campaigning for democracy and freedom in Zimbabwe (unfortunately they recognise both black and white victims, unlike you evidently). There's also on-going work with the Ethical Trading Initiative and the ITUC on fighting for workers rights in China.

If you read the TUC's statement, you'd also find condemnation of Hamas's attacks on Israel. You'll also find on the TUC's website, previous condemnations of Hamas on several occassions, particularly when Hamas attacked the Palestine Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU).

But don't let facts get in the way of your rantings.

Otherwise you might be forced to try and understand why the Israeli government might be lined up alongside those of Hamas, Iran, Zimbabwe, Colombia and Burma in the TUC's list of campaign targets.

And that, I assume, must be uncomfortable for you.

By the way, I am not from the TUC as someone posted earlier. But I am a trade union activist that knows a lot more about the politics of the TUC than the bunch of ignoramuses (ignorami?) on this blog page.

19 September 2009 at 19:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes - so why is North Korea absent? And I notice you consistently refer to the TUC supporting union rights in those countries - not human rights, but union rights. So you're not that bothered about actual democracy. But then the unions in the UK did all they could to prevent democracy and the rule of law anyway. Doubtless you're campaigning against secret ballots and for the closed shop right now.
And you still support Cuba, don't you?

Here's a thing - no-one gives a toss about your self-important, self-righteous nonsense anymore. And your oh so subtle accusation of racism directed at a previous poster is entirely typical of a deluded, decaying leftism that is gloriously going to be destroyed come May.

20 September 2009 at 08:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another thing, someone was bothered enough about the TUC on here to blog about it.

Just a shame they made a fool of themselves with so many glaring errors. Errors that needed correcting if you were interesting in reaching an informed and balanced opinion.

But then that was never the point was it?

Enjoy wallowing in paranoid right wing fantasy land instead.

20 September 2009 at 14:11  

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