Major British workers’ union joins moves to boycott Israel
By Haim Bior, Haaretz Correspondent
Britain’s Transport and General Workers’ Union has called upon its 800,000 members to boycott Israeli-made products based on what they term Israel’s criminal policies in Palestinian territories.
The decision to call for a boycott, reached at a union conference in Brighton, is declarative and does not include concrete steps to implement the boycott.
The TGWU is the second British union to call for a boycott on Israel this year – last month the British public services union UNISON also urged its members to refrain from purchasing Israeli products, basing the call on Israel’s criminal behaviour in the territories, and Israel’s responsibility for the Second Lebanon War.
In the last six months, Ontario, Canada’s public services union also proposed a similar anti-Israel boycott, as did several professional unions in South Africa. In addition, Britain’s University and College Union called upon its members earlier this year to consider an academic boycott of Israel, which would include holding funding from research projects run by Israeli professors and preventing Israeli lecturers from participating in seminars.
Histadrut International activities director Avital Shapira said Sunday afternoon that the Histadrut labor federation views the TGWU’s boycott call with severity. According to Shapira, the Histadrut has decided not to cooperate with these unions. “They expect us to help them with everything surrounding joint activities with Palestinian unions, but in light of their behavior toward us, we will hold these activities without them.”
The British embassy in Israel issued a response Sunday saying the British government opposes boycotts of any kind.
The boycott declared by the Transport and General Workers’ Union will not harm the growing commercial relations between the two countries, the statement said.
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