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COSATU Today  |  COSATU Press Statements

Statement for opening of Palestine BDS Conference

1 May 2011

COSATU, South Africa`s largest trade union confederation, wishes to send solidarity and fraternal greetings to our Palestinian comrades in struggle as they meet for the important trade union conference that will include the establishment of the Palestinian Coalition of Trade Unions for BDS.

Those of us that have had the chance to visit Palestine have witnessed that in front of the Apartheid Wall, the siege on Gaza and the repeated massacres of the Palestinian people that in many ways South Africa`s apartheid regime pales. Faced with the growing brutality of the racist Israeli apartheid regime, trade union action is of utter urgency. We cannot stay idle in front of the daily humiliation and dispossession of any people, including our Palestinian comrades.

Boycotts played a vital role in the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa. We wholeheartedly share the sentiment of our comrades in Palestine that boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is already showing its potential to play a key part in overthrowing Israeli apartheid.

We believe that trade union solidarity needs to be clear and principled. We support and will further the position that as long as the Israeli trade union federation, Histadrut, does not clearly stand up against Israeli apartheid and occupation, it cannot be exempt from the call to boycott Israel and its institutions.

As COSATU we have fully endorsed the Palestinian call for BDS. Indeed, there have been several concrete steps in this direction by our member unions, these include: SATAWU has been at the forefront of dockworker actions blockading Israeli ships; another member union, SAMWU, is currently campaigning for the nationwide establishment of Israeli-apartheid-free municipalities; finally, NEHAWU fully-backed and supported the recent (and successful) campaign for the University of Johannesburg to boycott Israel`s Ben-Gurion University. As COSATU we are committed to continue these efforts, we will also work with Palestinian and international comrades to establish BDS as a policy within the ITUC. We are looking forward to take direction and to work together with the Palestinian Coalition of Trade Unions for BDS to promote BDS locally, nationally and internationally.

We trust that the conference proceedings will be successful and reiterate our firm support to your just struggle for liberation, equality and return.

Long live Palestine

Long live international workers solidarity

Zanele Matebula (Deputy International Relations Secretary)
Tel: +27 11 339-4911/24
Fax: +27 11 339-5080/6940
Mobile: +27 82 300 8979
E-Mail: zanele@cosatu.org.za

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