The trade unions that have called for a ceasefire

The UK’s largest trade union has joined calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Palestine demo

Calls for a ceasefire have intensified in the trade union movement over the last week as more unions issued urgent statements for an immediate end to the bombardment of Gaza as the humanitarian crisis worsens.

The UK’s largest union and one of Labour’s biggest union donors, UNISON, was the latest to join calls for the British government to support a ceasefire, as the union condemned the killing of Palestinian civilians. The union also encouraged its members to ‘take action’ in calling for a ceasefire, including peaceful protest and contacting their MP.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) also issued its first statement on the conflict last Friday, calling for an immediate ceasefire. The union condemned “the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas on Israeli civilians” and that “no cause on earth can ever justify the slaughter of innocent people, particularly of children and the vulnerable. This also applies to Gaza.” Before they called for an end to the “Israeli Government’s policy of collective punishment against the Palestinian people”.

Trade union leaders including RMT’s Mick Lynch, Matt Wrack from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and a UNISON representative were among speakers at the mass Palestine solidarity demonstration in London last weekend, which saw thousands of people march through the City to call for a ceasefire.

Keir Starmer held firm in his position resisting calls for a ceasefire yesterday, as he argued during his speech that a ceasefire could risk ‘emboldening’ Hamas. It came as 330 councillors have issued him a new open letter putting pressure on the Labour leader to call for a ceasefire.

Trade unions blocking weapon shipments to Israel

Some trade unions have gone further and called for action to stop Israeli arms trade, including the United Voices of the World union and IWGB, which is campaigning in its workplaces for a “boycott of Israeli and international companies that are complicit in violations of Palestinian rights”.

The UK sex workers’ union has also issued a statement calling all trade unions to refuse the building or transport of weapons destined for Israel, echoed by the United Tech and Allied Workers, a branch of the CWU.

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.”

It comes as Palestinian trade unions issued an urgent call for their international counter-parts to block arms manufacturing to Israel. The group Workers for Palestine has taken on the call in the UK and organised the blockade of an Israeli arms factory.

The group of 150 trade unionists blocked the entrance to an weapons factory in Kent, with workers from the unions Unite, UNISON, the NEU, UCU, BMA, BFAWU, RMT and IWGB present.

Hundreds of Unite members have signed an open letter to their union calling to support workers who refuse to build or handle weapons heading for Israel. Whilst Unite members of the Parliamentary Staff Branch passed a motion calling on MPs for an immediate ceasefire.   

Labour’s biggest union donor, Unite, has so far not mention a ceasefire, but the union’s most recent statement said it, “unreservedly condemns the recent appalling acts of violence in Israel and Gaza and calls for the protection and upholding of human rights under international law.”

Transport unions in Belgium announced yesterday that they were refusing to load and unload weapons intended for Israel, both via ports and airports. Whilst Canada’s largest union has passed a resolution calling on their government to end the sale of arms to Israel. This was followed by workers in Canada shutting down INKAS, a Toronto-based company supplying arms equipment to Israel.

Among the main trade unions in the UK who have issued urgent calls for a ceasefire are:













Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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