While growing numbers of global unions are showing solidarity with Palestinians calling for BDS, a few groups prefer to ignore the elephant in the room; the occupation. How to manage it? It doesn’t exist. History will record who stood tall against oppression and who equivocated:
An Australian version of the British organisation, Trade Unions For Israel (TUFI), will be launched during a mission by seven local unionists to Israel and the West Bank later this month.
The delegation, comprising union leaders from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, will meet with Members of the Knesset, representatives of Israel’s trade union roof body Histadrut, officials of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), and media commentators.
TUFI convenor Michael Borowick said the new group will be pursuing similar principles at a local level to Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine.
Borowick, the assistant secretary of the Australian Workers Union’s Victorian branch, said TUFI was conceived during a meeting with a British union official in May.
TUFI was established in Britain to promote Israeli-Palestinian trade union co-operation and strengthen the links between the Israeli, Palestinian and British trade union movements.
The idea for a British TUFI was inspired by an historic agreement in 2008 between the Histadrut and the PGFTU to base future relations on negotiation, dialogue and joint initiatives. It has led other agreements between unions representing major sectors, such as transport and construction, in the intertwined Israeli and Palestinian economies.
“It seemed there was a need to refocus on trade unions because there are a lot of supporters of Israel within the [Australian] trade union movement and there has been a specific initiative to channel that interest,” Borowick told The AJN.
Borowick said the inaugural TUFI mission from Australia will be in two parts, with TUFI UK hosting the Australians for four days, after which a further five-day itinerary will be provided by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.
“We’re trying to match up unions from here with their equivalent in Israel, and we’re meeting the PGFTU officials in the West Bank,” he said.
Borowick last month slammed a decision by the Victorian Trades Hall Council to endorse local boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities at a time when Israelis and Palestinians are in peace talks, and trade union contacts are rapidly developing.