Israeli and Palestinian trade unions in new deal

By Dana Gloger, August 15, 2008

The revival of an agreement between the Israeli national trade union and its Palestinian counterpart which collapsed more than a decade ago has been welcomed by UK-based Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI).

The deal, between the Histadrut and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), was originally negotiated in 1993, but collapsed shortly after. This week it was reinstated under the auspices of the International Trade Unions' Confederation (ITUC).

The agreement is an undertaking by the Histadrut to provide legal and union services to Palestinian workers who have permission to work for Israeli employers. It will also reimburse workers fees they have paid since 1993 for union and legal representation.

Stephen Scott, director of TUFI, said it took two years to get the deal reinstated: "There was increasing pressure from trade unions around the world, as well as from the ITUC. There has also been an easing of tensions between the Histadrut and the PGFTU in the past 18 months, so it was possible to finally get the agreement back on track."

He added that the deal could help in the fight against calls to boycott Israeli goods and academics.

Several unions, including the University and College Union, claimed the Histadrut's failure to pay the PGFTU the money it had collected from Palestinian workers was one reason why Israel should be boycotted.

"People were using this to have a go at Israel," Mr Scott said. "The reinstating of this agreement makes the calls to boycott flounder."

Last updated: 4:19pm, July 22 2009