By Jonathan Kalmus, June 4, 2010
Britain’s largest union, Unite, has unanimously passed a motion to boycott Israeli companies at its first policy conference in Manchester on Wednesday.
The motion, which passed unanimously, called the union “to vigorously promote a policy of divestment from Israeli companies”, while a boycott of Israeli goods and services will be “similar to the boycott of South African goods during the era of apartheid”.
Reflecting the University and College Union’s call at their Manchester conference earlier in the week, Unite will similarly host a “Palestine conference” to support trade union action against Israel.
But at odds with the UCU’s call to sever links with Israel’s trade union movement Histadrut, Unite delegates voted to keep solidarity links. Stephen Scott, director of Trade Union Friends of Israel, said that indicates a split within the pro-boycott movement, many of whom realise such a call “is all very dangerous stuff.
“It would be huge for another trade union movement to expel them even when they are a democratic organisation and pass all the criteria of being a member of the international trade unions.”
Nevertheless, Mr Scott added: “All round, you now have a major player supporting the boycott and the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and there is no resistance.”