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Action Palestine - our partner for University twinnings
Twinning with Palestine
The Britain - Palestine Twinning Network - "promoting twinning and friendship links"
Trade Unions twinned with or working in Palestine
There are a number of a Trade Unions building links with sections of Palestine Society. Although some solidarity campaigns in the U.K. insist on dealing with the official (many would say corrupt) union only, and do not support the boycotting of Israeli T.U.'s, there are non official groups in Palestine who genuinely support the Boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for example.
If you are a Trade Unionist involved in twinning with Palestine, please contact us.
If you are interested in creating Twinning links, click here for some practical advice and suggestions.
A good example of a successful twinning built with Trade Union support is the Birmingham Trades Union Council Standing Advisory Committee - Twinning Birmingham & Ramallah.
Read all about their work.
Teachers Friends of Palestine (TfP) is a recently established group of London based teachers whose aim is to raise awareness and garner support for teachers in Palestine through a variety of activities. Teachers Friends of Palestine has already attracted strong support both from grass roots union members and branch secretaries alike. We are also working with well established groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Jews for Justice for Palestinians. Two founding members of TfP, themselves regular visitors to Palestine, will be guiding this tour group in Palestine.
Retired teacher, Bernard said of his tour in April 2006, "On a visit to Dehaisheh refugee camp I saw that despite being strapped for funds and resources there was heartening evidence of the priority being given to education. In the recently opened community building could be seen already a fully equipped creche, nursery and kindergarten awaiting the first occupants, a room full of books in piles on the floor ready to be arranged on shelves yet to be put up to form a library. I also saw another room, bare except for a dozen computers, before each of which sat a teenager developing IT skills. The keenness and enthusiasm of the staff to overcome as far as possible the adverse conditions they faced was truly impressive."
Teachers Friends of Palestine group - www.teacherfriendsofpalestine.org
A new group aiming to build links with Palestinian teachers and schools.
N.U.J. - Despite efforts to prevent twinning by national leaders, local branches are getting on with it. If you are a membe rof the NUJ in London please support the magazines branches effrots to twin.
11/10/2007 - NUJ twinning bid
The London Magazine branch of the National Union of Journalists is to consider a resolution committing the branch to joining a twinning with Palestine campaign at its November meeting. If it is carried, members will ask for it to be adopted nationally at the NUJ’s annual conference.
From The Union of Public Services –members of the General Federation of the Palestinian Workers Trade Unions – to The National UNISON conference in Brighton 19-22 June 2007.
On behalf of all the workers of Palestine, we wish to thank you very much and express to you our utmost gratitude and appreciation for all the bold steps currently being taken to declare a boycott of the occupying State of Israel.
We consider the boycott of Israel to be an important step towards putting an end to:-
- the occupation,
- the daily killing of our sons & daughters and
- the systematic abuse of Palestinian human dignity.
We believe the boycott of Israel, the State of Occupation to be a defiant step of the Free-minded who believe in human dignity. It is also an important step in order to put an end to Israel’s policies of racism, which reached the point of turning the Palestinian territories into a big open prison as a result of the construction of the separation wall and thepresence of more than 350 military check points which cut off our Palestinian land and isolate us from the world.
We call on you to make every possible effort to alleviate our suffering.
President of the Tubas Public Services Union
Democracy and Workers' Rights Center in Palestine - www.dwrc.org.
Democratic and independent unions in Palestine have decided to join together in order to make their voices heard. Currently, there are four competing labor federations in Palestine - three controlled by Fatah and one by Hamas. None of these federations have had genuine democratic elections of their leadership in recent years and appointments and distribution of positions in the executive boards are made on a political basis.
This situation has considerably weakened the trade union movement and it has become necessary to create a movement independent of political factions in order to truly represent the will of Palestinian workers.
Hasan Barghouthi is the General Director
For a period of 4/5 years the NGO Democracy and Workers Rights Centre in Ramallah has been helping workers to organise against their employers, for their rights etc. In the process of this they helped them to organise in Workers Committees in various workplaces. These workers committees then went on to join together, and form national organisations, in several types of work, e.g. hospitals, municipalities, banks etc. These organisations were extremely democratic, and included elections at all levels.
In this process they came into conflict with the official unions, recognised by the TUC: the PGFTU. From 4 years ago I have been meeting with committees of these unions, and sometimes have attended their classes.
Parallel to this, there was a fight going on inside the PGFTU, for democratic elections. I and another person from Oxford held a three day school on democracy inside trade unions, and on the role of women, for members in Ramallah area.
The Executive member of the PGFTU, who I was working with, was then expelled from the union because of this fight. He was the Ramallah area Secretary, and a full timer. Being unemployed, he then formed the Unemployed Workers Federation. This now has 10s of thousands of members, all over the West Bank.
The new democratic unions have many thousands of members in Gaza.
Now, on the 20th July all these unions, including the Unemployed Federation are holding a conference in Ramallah, in order to form a federation of democratic unions.
Considering the polical conditions, and the fact that members of these unions are of all political persuasions, are constantly on strike etc. it is clearly an important development.
I don't know of anybody else even taking an interest, but will obviously find out at the conference. I feel it essential that we are represented.
Report back from the conference
PALESTINIAN DEMOCRATIC UNIONS UNITE
Friday and Saturday 27/28 July 2007 saw a conference in Ramallah, where the new 50,000 member Coalition of Democratic and Independent Trade Unions was formed.
Mainly in the last 4/5 years, workers in Palestine have been forming independent, and democratic unions, usually at first by forming workers councils in individual workplaces, and then by uniting these councils, to form sector unions.
They have often done this, with the assistance of the “Democracy and Workers Rights Centre”. (DWRC)
These unions have been meeting with some older democratic unions, and have now come together to form a coalition of such unions. They represent workers in finance, health, pharmaceuticals, higher education, kindergarten, telecommunications, municipalities, electricity, and the unemployed.
The opening ceremony was held in the Ramallah Cultural Palace.
The opening speaker for the new unions, Abdel Hakim Aleyan, said they did not want to carry out factional activity, but to try to advance workers against those who exploit them.
Then National and Islamic Parties PLO Executive member Saleh Rafah said trade unions should ensure political plurality, and he called for unity of unions, but on a democratic basis. He also demanded a state based on 1967 borders, with no concessions, and called for Hamas to give their arms to Abbas.
Hasan Barghouti for the DWRC, facilitators of the conference, called for the protection of "the dignity of the people." Ahmed Tawfiq, the Director of Labour Relations at the Palestinian Ministry of Labour, said that they have relations with all federations, and this one consisted of real professional unions.
Speaking from Oxford and District Trade Union Council, Tony Richardson welcomed the formation of the new democratic unions, said that democracy was not a choice, and described the bureaucratisation of the long established British trade unions. He called for the new unions to control their leaders, and for them to make sure this bureaucratisation doesn't happen to them. He said their main support from outside would come from those fighting in their unions against these bureaucrats. Tony also brought support from the National Twinning Network, which would help establish relations with their local counterparts in the UK.
The Conference then moved for their business to the Rocky Hotel. Throughout the day there were constant votes and vociferous discussion.
The first issue was how the voting would take place. Some of the unions are quite long established, like the Hebron unemployed, and others very new. Nobody wanted to find themselves voted down, so there were tensions. After about two hours it was agreed that voting in resolutions would require a two thirds majority; this vote was almost unanimous. It was then agreed that as far as the rest of the constitution was concerned the groups would all give their opinions to a sub-committee, which was then elected.
Another long discussion took place over the name, and it was agreed to keep Coalition, rather than federation. It was agreed that new affiliations would go before the full Executive. There would be a 15 person Executive, and 45 person National Council, the latter on proportional representation according to the size of the union.
There were 105 delegates to the Conference. There had been much pressure from political parties and the "official" unions against attendance. Saturday 28th
The National Council met to elect the Executive. Some people had met overnight, and made suggestions for a list. Here all kinds of tensions arose, some insults were exchanged, and a health union delegation walked out.
Finally 18 names came up and everybody had 15 votes each, an Executive was elected, and the new coalition was formed. Some problems are:
Gaza, which could not participate, and where there are clearly problems with functioning as trade unions.
Women. Only one woman spoke at the conference proper, although one, Khouled Asmar chaired the opening. There are also only three on the Executive. This is clearly a problem reflecting the society, but from my knowledge not so much in some of the unions, so hopefully this will change.I know many strong women in these unions.
This clearly is historic and democratic, these are the reasons for the tensions, they want to form a body that does things, and most of the unions have been on strike recently, and all are risking a lot, with the occupation, and a violent authority and opposition.
Although these unions have only limited experience, this means they are not yet bureaucratised, and so this could be a qualitative development. All praise the DWRC for facilitating this activity, they are trying for moves in this direction in Jordan, and their affiliates also in Egypt.
All trade union activists should praise this development, and get connected with their Palestinian counterparts to see if they can be of assistance
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