Palestinian Trade Unions write to SA counterparts on the occasion of May Day/Labor Day 2016

29 April 2016
Below is a message of support written by Palestinian trade unions to South African counterparts on the occasion of May Day 2016. The message is endorsed by 11 Palestinian trade unions and trade union federations.

BDS South Africa representatives will be speaking at several Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) May Day rallies in various provinces throughout the country this Sunday 01 May 2016 as part of May Day / Labor Day worker events. The struggles of all people for justice and dignity are inter-connected and as BDS South Africa we salute the South African trade union movement and its members for their unflinching support for the Palestinian struggle and their commitment to the freedom of the Palestinians. Palestinian workers face the combined oppression of unjust political power, immoral capitalism, racism and ethnic and religious chauvinism expressed by the Israeli state. 

We acknowledge the labour that built up this great land of South Africa, often under unjust conditions, and we reaffirm our commitment to the current and future struggles of workers for more just and equitable working conditions and remuneration - in South Africa, Palestine and beyond! 

Message from Palestinian labor to South African comrades on the occasion of May Day 2016 

The Palestinian labor movement and mass social unions salute our South African comrades on International Workers’ Day.
We are encouraged by your unwavering and principled commitment and solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. We address you on this occsation cognisant of your continuous struggles for workers’ rights and dignity in South Africa and stand with you on these efforts. 

Your historic struggle against apartheid has served as an inspiration for the Palestinian-led global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement launched in 2005, endorsed by virtually all Palestinian trade unions. The BDS movement aims to isolate Israel in all fields, economically, militarily, academically, culturally and in sports, until Israel respects international law and Palestinians have their full human rights. The tremendous growth of BDS campaigns is bringing about a gradual change in public perception that can eventually lead to sanctions by governments against Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.

South African workers and trade unions were among the first to respond to the 2005 Palestinian call for BDS. South African workers have played a crucial role in the last decade in helping us to mainstream support for BDS in South Africa and worldwide. COSATU’s principled and consistent role in defending BDS motions at the ITUC is one brilliant example of this international solidarity.

As we enter a crossroads period in our struggle, the Palestinian trade union movement calls on South African workers and trade unions to intensify efforts towards a full government ban on all products of companies that operate in or source from the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. We also hope that pressure can be applied to ban businesses that profit from the  Israeli occupation regime (settlements, wall, checkpoints, infrastructure, etc) from gaining public contracts in South Africa. 

As you would all know, Israel armed the South African apartheid regime to enable its brutal repression of South Africa’s black majority breaking the international embargo in place at the time. Today Israel and its supporters in South Africa are trying to whitewash this history by forging ties between democratic South Africa and Israel’s own apartheid regime. The South African government has a moral and legal duty to implement a comprehensive military embargo on Israel and prosecute South African citizens serving in the Israeli army that have taken part in war crimes against Palestinians. 

Israel is stepping up its brutal repression against Palestinians with unprecedented incitement coming from the top levels of the Israeli establishment. Israel labels BDS as a “strategic threat” to its regime of oppression and is trying to silence and legally suppress our work across the world. Our response is to intensify effective BDS action towards sanctions and isolation of Israel.
Your solidarity with our own “long walk to freedom” is more crucial today than ever. 

In solidarity, 

- The Palestinian Federation of New Unions
- Palestinian Federation of Independent Trade Unions
- Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU, Gaza Strip
- General Union of Palestinian Teachers
- General Union Of Palestinian Women
- General Union of Palestinian Writers
- General Union of Palestinian Peasants
- Palestinian Farmers’ Union
 - Palestinian Union of Professional Associations
- Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees ( PFUUPE)
- Palestinian Postal Services Workers Union (PPSWU)
Kwara Kekana (South Africa): +27 (0) 74 054 3826 /
Mahmoud Nawajaa (Palestine): +970 (0) 56 988 8830 /
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