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COSATU Today  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU welcomes formation of the Egyptian Independent Trade Union Federation (EITUF) and their inspirational call for BDS against Israel

5 July 2011

The trade union and political landscape on the African continent would never be the same, particularly after the North African uprisings. The birth of a progressive movement, particularly in Egypt has given rise to a new impetus and momentum. In this regard, the formation of the Egyptian Independent Trade Union Federation (EITUF) signalled that new era in a more profound sense.

It is a progressive and independent union which locates its broad analysis on working class premises, hence its unequivocal pronouncements against imperialism, global injustice and oppression of workers by various regimes.

We all know the geo-political and strategic position of Egypt in global affairs and no doubt believe that developments in that country are of interest to all of us, moreso in Africa and the Middle east.

We are keen to engage and work with them on fundamental issues of our continent, democracy and human rights, international solidarity and global justice for workers and the poor. This is even more important in the context of the global south’s struggle for a new and just world order, in which Africa remains critical given its situation.

We are further inspired by their recent principled statements on a number of issues of both internal and international significance to the Egyptian working class. The most recent being their unapologetic call for all unions in the world to support the BDS against the Zionist state of Israel, which has maintained its illegal occupation of Palestine for years now.

This should surely change the posture of the global campaign for the liberation of Palestine, particularly as regards the attitude of certain unions on the questions of the BDS and the isolation of Histadrut (Israeli racist union), which is an instrument of Zionist occupation and colonialism in Palestine.

In the words of Kamal Abu Aita, representative, “We call on the global trade union movement to cut links with the Histadrut and to support the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS”.

He went on to confirm that the EIUF rejects any attempt to ‘normalise’ relations with Israel. In a speech in London to hundreds of activists from the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, Abu Aita also welcomed the formation of the Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS) and called on the international trade union movement to join the coalition.

Finally, he said: “The Egyptian Independent Union Federation has a very clear position and that is one of solidarity with the Palestinian Arab people, support for their right to a state in the whole of their land and support for their right to use all forms of resistance against the Zionist state. The EIUF announces its rejection of all forms of normal relations with the racist, settler Zionist state and we will not co-operate with any of its official or trade union bodies because they are all connected to the Zionist occupation of our land. It is impossible for us to work with this racist regime, and it is vital to build a movement of humanity which aims to get rid of racist regimes against the world, just as we got rid of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.”

We are also inspired to learn from him that, “The Egyptian revolution opened the door wide for our people to express their rejection of the Zionist state. From the beginning, the revolution has worked in the interests of the Palestinians, by stopping the export of Egyptian gas to the Zionists, and opening the border crossings. Egyptian youth besieged the embassy of our enemy and demanded the expulsion of the ambassador.” This is the most profound expression of solidarity and an inspiration to all of us standing on the side of justice against the forces of apartheid and occupation.

Bongani Masuku (International Relations Secretary)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
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Braamfontein, 2017

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