Unite accused of ignoring Covid-19 crisis after submitting anti-Israel TUC motion

EXCLUSIVE: Left-wing union’s proposal – ‘the only international motion’ at the conference – sparks anger


The left-wing union Unite has been accused of ignoring the global crisis for workers caused by the pandemic after submitting a motion condemning Israel for discussion at next week’s annual Trade Union Congress (TUC) annual conference.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will be among those set to address the conference, which is being held virtually and which begins on Monday.

Motion 66,  which will be debated next week by the TUC’s General Council, condemns the Israeli government’s now postponed plan to annex part of the West Bank and calls for the unions to  “fully support and play an active role in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s actions.”

The Unite motion, which is the only motion in the international section, says annexation would be a “significant step in the creation of a system of apartheid”.

It adds: “For too long the international community has stood idly by as the Israeli state has been allowed to carry out its crimes and this cannot be tolerated or accepted any longer. Decisive action is now urgently needed in relation to Israel’s illegal actions against the Palestinians.”

But the decision by Len McCluskey’s union to issue a now familiar condemnation of Israel at a TUC Conference dominated by motions dealing with responses to the pandemic has been greeted with anger by some in the union movement.

Steve Scott of the Britain Israel Trade Union Dialogue (BITUD) told the JC: "It's strange that in a time of unprecedented struggle for workers worldwide, including massive job losses and health consequences of Covid, that the only international motion at the TUC doesn't offer solidarity and support to workers across the globe." 

"There has been considerable cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians during the Covid-19 crisis to get people back to work and the Histadrut (Israeli TUC) at the moment have issued notice of a General Strike to defend all public sector workers who face pay cuts, isn't this something we should be sending solidarity  messages for rather than condemnation?

"Considering that the annexation proposals have been rescinded since the recent recognition agreement between Israel and the UAE, this motion also seems to be out of date. Why aren't we now calling for a return to talks between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships in light of the peace moves in the Middle East".

Unite’s motion will be discussed on next Monday and Tuesday afternoon but will not be aired to members of the public or other trade union members who register to watch online coverage of the event.

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