Union blocks boycott move

The “Boycott Israel” campaign has been dealt a significant blow after the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers’ (RMT) annual meeting overturned its pro-boycott policy.

More than two-thirds of the delegates voted in favour of a tough-talking but balanced resolution that not only condemned violence and racism on both sides, but also insisted that: “The Hamas Charter is a virulently antisemitic document that exhorts the killing of Jews and subordinates all social and human rights to Islam.”

The motion also praised Israeli and Palestinian unions whose workers, it said, were usually the victims of violence by both sides, and pledged continued support for both sides.

Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council and joint head of the Stop the Boycott Campaign, said: “The RMT’s decision proves that it’s not one-way traffic on Israel in the trades-union movement.

“I hope other unions will now have the courage to follow the example that it has set — represent the view of the majority of their membership and reject divisive boycotts.

“The RMT understands the only way forward is through dialogue and bridge-building and not
boycotts.”

More than 40 conference delegates voted for the motion, with seven against and nine abstentions.

Meanwhile, Keele University lecturer Eve Garrard has resigned from the University and College Union following its pro-boycott resolution in May.

In a letter to the UCU general secretary Sally Hunt, Ms Garrard questioned why the union should continue to “punish Israel”.

She wrote: “I, like many others, can no longer bear the shame and embarrassment of belonging to an institution which is willing to discriminate against Jews, and whose readiness to do so is supported by leading members of its executive committee.

“Some of these members were elected on an explicitly anti-boycott platform, but nonetheless went on to support this latest attempt to boycott Israel.  That includes, to her shame, the president of the union, Linda Newman; and also, to your shame, the general secretary, yourself.

“This union is no longer a fit place for those who think Jews have the same rights of self-determination, self-defence and national identity as other peoples do and I hereby resign from it.”

    Last updated: 8:24am, July 4 2008