At its 2013 Annual Congress in Perth, the Scottish Trades Union Council (STUC) re-affirmed its support for the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and extended the scope of its campaign to include G4S. A series of delegates queued to speak in support of the motion which was carried nem con, with no opposition. Mike Arnott of Dundee Trades Union Council moved the G4S motion saying that "it is a direct response to the appeal by former Palestinian prisoner Shireen Issawi, sister of hunger striker Samer Issawi... to 'deliver the voice of the oppressed prisoners and hold this company accountable for its responsibility towards these prisoners, and its partnership with the occupation in its inhumane practices'".
Congress delegates passed four other Palestine motions, all unanimous, including an endorsement of the international call for action against the JNF and calls for BDS campaigning in response to Israel's blockade of Gaza and settlement building.
UCU Scotland official Mary Senior explained to delegates the significance of her union’s recent victory at an employment tribunal which dismissed allegations of institutional anti-semitism levelled at the UCU.
Pictured: STUC congress delegates demonstrate their solidarity on Palestinian Prisoners Day, 17th April.
Watch video messages of solidarity: vimeo.com/64269753
STUC G4S resolution
"That this Congress notes that the 'World Social Forum – Free Palestine' agreed to make the next annual Palestinian Prisoners' Day, April 17th 2013, a worldwide day of action against security company G4S.
In Occupied Palestine, G4S is involved in human rights abuses and violations of international law through the services it provides to the Israeli Occupation Forces, including providing or operating:
• equipment for Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza;
• security system of Ktziot prison, central control room of Megido prison, central control room for Ofer prison compound and security services to Damon prison, which are all facilities detaining Palestinian political prisoners;
• equipment for West Bank Israeli Police headquarters in the highly contested E1 area; and
• security services to businesses, including banks and supermarkets, in illegal West Bank settlements and in East Jerusalem.
"Congress believes G4S's activities in the Israeli Prison Service constitute a breach of international law, including Articles 49 and 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and that they are complicit in violations of the human rights of Palestinian prisoners, including children.
"Congress notes that G4S in Norway was petitioned by trade unions and others, calling for it to cease activities complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and mistreatment of Palestinians.
• demands that G4S withdraws forthwith from all activities that contribute to Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and to its denial of human rights to Palestinians;
• calls on the General Council and the trade union movement in Scotland to raise these points, through every possible channel, with G4S;
• resolves that until G4S concedes to these demands, it will be a target of the STUC's policy of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions;
• calls on the Scottish Government to cancel G4S's new contract for tagging of offenders; and
• endorses the UK StopG4S Campaign."
"That this Congress re-endorses the international call for action against the Jewish National Fund and the STUC campaign to expose the role of the Jewish National Fund in the oppression of Palestinians.
"Congress applauds the STUC's history of support for the rights of the Palestinian people and the STUC's support for the international
campaign of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel.
"Congress calls on the General Council to make more use of the STUC website to expose the role of the Jewish National Fund, to campaign for Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions and to publicise the plight of the Palestinian people."
Illegal Israeli Settlement of Palestinian Land resolution
"That this Congress welcomes the historic vote at the UN to recognise Palestine as a State with observer status. It was disappointing that the UK Government abstained on this issue.
"Congress condemns the reaction of the Israeli Government to the vote. The Israeli Government has authorised the construction of housing units and other buildings on the 'E1' zone to the north east of Jerusalem. The 'E1' zone is Palestinian land and the construction is illegal under international law, as is all settlement building within the West Bank.
Palestinians living within the zone would be forcibly evicted. The annexation of 'E1' by Israel, implemented by the Israeli Defence Force,
will have the effect of completely isolating Palestinian East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and dividing the West Bank into two parts, which would make a unified Palestinian state unfeasible.
"Congress recognises that the completion of the annexation will prevent a two state solution as advocated by the international community, and end the possibility of a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
"Congress calls on the UK Government and the Scottish Government to implement sanctions against Israel with the objective of reversing the illegal annexation of 'E1', and encourage affiliated unions to support the call of Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel."
Gaza blockade resolution
"That this Congress has a long history of support for the Palestinian struggle and has previously campaigned for economic, political and
social pressure to be applied to the Israeli Government and world powers, to reach a peaceful and just two state solution for Palestine and Israel.
"Congress notes that, following January 2013 elections, Israel maintains an ever tighter control of Gaza's borders and is concerned that
foodstuffs, building materials and medical supplies are subject to blockade, while large areas have been destroyed and families have
been displaced and left homeless.
Congress deeply regrets that 90% of Gaza's water is now undrinkable and sanitation-related diseases are common, power supplies are unreliable and industrial businesses are unable to import raw materials, while deepening levels of poverty means the majority of the population are now aid-dependent.
"Congress acknowledges that Foreign Office Minister, Alistair Burt MP, visited Gaza in 2011 and saw the damage Israeli restrictions on
movements of goods and people do to the economy and living standards of ordinary people.
Congress is aware that UK Government policy states that negotiations are needed to ensure more open access to and from Gaza, and to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before the window for a two state solution closes.
"Congress calls on the General Council to support a continual awareness-raising process on these issues, and endeavor to step-up its
lobbying of the UK Government, to press for a complete lifting of the blockade and compliance with international law in Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people."
FBU Palestinian Project resolution
"That this Congress notes the ongoing efforts of the Fire Brigades Union to provide practical training for the Fire and Rescue Service within Palestine.
"Congress welcomes the support of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in facilitating officers of the Palestinian Authority and Civil
Defence Department as they receive training in developing skills and training for their humanitarian role.
"Congress calls on the STUC General Council to continue its support for this project and to encourage the Scottish Government to continue its practical support, with a view to further developing the links between Palestine and Scotland."