Workers organised in response to an urgent call from Palestinian trade unions
Over 150 young trade unionists created a blockade at the entrances to a factory in Kent this morning, which is the site of an Israeli weapons manufacturer.
Holding a banner reading ‘Workers For A Free Palestine’, the demonstration targeted Instro Precision Ltd in Sandwich, Kent, a subsidiary of arms manufacturer Elbit Systems which is one of Israel’s largest arms producers responsible for making drones and artillery for the military.
Members from the unions Unite, UNISON, the NEU, UCU, the BMA, BFAWU, RMT and IWGB were represented, demanding the UK stop arming Israel, in response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The action was organised by a new project called Workers for a Free Palestine, set up in response to an urgent call made by Palestinian trade unions for their international counterparts to halt arms trading with Israel.
Palestinian trade unions called on global workers to take action and “end all forms of complicity with Israel’s crimes” by refusing to build or transport weapons destined for Israel and to increase pressure on governments to call for a ceasefire.
According to Novara Media reporter Ash Sarkar, multiple lorries and vans were unable to make deliveries to the weapons factory after being turned away by the group today.
It comes as there have been countless fresh calls for an immediate Gaza ceasefire, which the UN’s secretary general said was needed immediately to end “epic suffering” in Gaza and the “collective punishment of the Palestinian people”.
The General Federation of Trade Unions most recently backed an urgent ceasefire and said they supported the call for a trade union movement worldwide “to refuse to build or transport weapons to Israel, to take action against companies complicit in the siege of Gaza and to pressure their governments to cease military trade with Israel.”
The trade union body wrote: “We echo the voice of the democratic forces in Israel and Palestine when they say that there is no military solution to this crisis, only a political one – the end of the occupation and Palestinian independence.”
The Workers for a Free Palestine movement make up of a network of workers including teachers, university workers, nurses, paramedics, bar staff, acting on the Palestinian trade unions’ call to action.
The group wrote: “Workers have a unique kind of power over the government and businesses: when we go to work, we make the whole economy work. If we don’t show up to our jobs, things grind to a halt. Strikes and action in the workplace are more effective than protests.”
Members of Unite the union recently wrote an open letter calling on their union to respond to the call from Palestinian trade unions.
(Image credit: Ash Sakar / Twitter Screenshot)
Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues