Monday, June 27, 2011

UNISON NDC 2011: Motion 89 Palestine

On Wednesday afternoon I spoke in favour of this important and controversial motion. In the past UNISON conference had voted to break links with Histadrut, the Israeli trade union organisation over its support of Israeli state policy towards Palestine.

Last year Conference voted for its NEC to review this policy. The NEC did so and carried out a fact finding mission to Palestine, including meeting up with representatives of its major union, the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU).

During this visit UNISON representatives believe that they were clearly told that the PGFTU wanted them to not break off all links with Histadrut since there were advantages to the Palestine cause  from us having a "critical engagement" policy. 

However, the motion was defeated when a number of speakers claimed that the PGFTU wanted us to continue to boycott and made reference to statements made by its leadership which appeared to clearly support that view.  This I think caused widespread confusion amongst delegates and led to the motion being lost. 

I have never been to Palestine (or Israel for that matter) and I am not in anyway an "expert" in these things but I suspect that the PGFTU do see tactical advantages for them if UNISON had links with Histadrut but they do not wish to do so publicly.

See what happens next year.


Damien McKee said...

Don't you agree that Isreal has a right to exist and that whilst Isreal doesn't always respond to problems appropiately it does have a right to defend itself and would I be terrible for being an Isreali supporting trade unionist?

John Gray said...


Yes, Damien, Israel does have the absolute right to exist but so does Palestine.

No, you would not be terrible but you would really support Israel and its trade unions if you could persuade the state to act more appropriately more of the time.

Damien McKee said...

I take it you would have been appalled at Jenny Tonge's comments that she would have been a suicide bomber if she was Palestinian back in 2004 and this year Bob Russell MP for Colchester said Britain should get tough with Israel.Would you agree that Baroness Tonge desreves the nickname Jihad Jenny whilst I have nicknamed Bob Russell-Jihad Bob!

John Gray said...

Hi Damien

No - to all points.

We need to have a grown up debate on Palestine. There is too much mudslinging and point scoring.