Occupied Palestine, November 29 – The Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (PTUC-BDS), the largest coalition of the Palestinian trade union movement, stands in solidarity with the millions of public sector workers across the UK taking strike action on November 30 to defend their pensions, jobs and public services. We understand the current government proposals, that ask you to pay more into public service pensions and work longer, only to receive smaller pensions, as a serious attack on your rights and the gains of the international trade union movement. All across the world, workers are being made to pay for a crisis we did not create and we in occupied Palestine stand in solidarity with your just action to defend your pensions, jobs and public services.

British trade unionists demonstrate to defend their pensions: every British TU has declared for BDSAt this crucial time, we also ask you to remember that Palestinians, too, are part of the 99% yearning for freedom, justice and equal rights. Whether living behind the Apartheid Wall and under occupation in the West Bank, under a medieval siege in Gaza, subjected to a system of institutionalised discrimination as citizens of Israel or as refugees unable to return to their homes, Palestinians, too, believe another world is possible and that ordinary people can create it.

With that in mind, we ask you to consider how your pensions are structured and what they are invested in. Working families have gradually lost control over pension funds and there is an urgent need for democratisation and accountability in how they are operated. These pension funds are too often invested in corporations that profit from human rights abuses and violations of international law in Palestine and internationally.

For example, most pension funds are invested in BAE Systems, which supplies components to F-16s used during the 2008-09 Gaza massacre, owns a company that maintains them for the Israeli military and, through a subsidiary, supplies tear gas to the Israeli police used to crush dissent.[1]

Most pension funds are also invested in Veolia and Alstom, which built and operate the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail, which is explicitly designed to literally cement Israel’s grip on the illegal settlements and has been condemned as illegal under international by the UN Human Rights Council. Adverts for staff for the Jerusalem Light Rail demanded applicants had completed Israeli military service, effectively barring Palestinians from applying.[2] Many local councils and private financial institutions have refused to deal with the two companies, yet pension funds for public sector workers continue to invest in them.

Far from taking meaningful steps to support justice for Palestinians, most of the international community is deeply complicit with Israel’s apartheid system over the Palestinian people. In response, Palestinian civil society, including the entirety of the Palestinian trade union movement, has called upon people of conscience to take action under the framework of boycotts, divestment and sanctions until Israel complies with international law. Pressuring pension funds to divest from corporations complicit with Israel’s system of oppression over the Palestinian people is an effective and vital form of solidarity with our struggle for our rights, and we ask you to consider working with us to work to establish campaigns to that aim.

We wish you the very best in your struggle against government attacks on your conditions. An injury to one is an injury to all!

The Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS)

[1] Targeting Israeli Apartheid – A Handbook



[2] http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/veoliaalstom

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