New warnings on boycott bids

A communal activist has warned of a concerted effort to get the Trades Union Congress to overturn its anti-boycott stance towards Israel.

After boycott motions appeared on the conference agendas of a number of smaller unions, and a week after it was revealed that the University and College Union was trying to reactivate its academic boycott, Steve Scott of Trade Union Friends of Israel said he believed this was the start of a bigger campaign.

“In the long term, a proper boycott with a campaign of sanctions and disinvestment would be our fear,” said Mr Scott. “The unions want to goad the TUC into a major change of its position. But this would not be without its problems for the TUC. We believe our opponents are being taken down a very dangerous path that could bring difficulties with the world trade union.”

The Scottish Trades Union Congress will debate a motion from Kilmarnock and Loudon Trades Council at its conference on April 21, calling for a consumer boycott of Israeli goods and disinvestment of pension funds in firms that supply arms to Israel. This is a position the STUC had adopted previously but it could become an issue again.

The National Union of Journalists, which last year passed a pro-boycott motion, which was later overturned, was due to hear a motion at its annual delegate conference in Belfast this week calling for it to fall in line with the TUC stance of opposing a boycott.

Other motions that criticised Israel’s treatment of Gaza and called for greater links with Palestinian journalists were tempered by national executive amendments that included Israel and its journalists’ union.

The Transport and Salaried Staffs Association, which will debate a motion at its conference in May calling on the TUC to implement a boycott, has suggested it was tantamount to the boycott used against South Africa.

    Last updated: 4:08pm, June 3 2008