18 October 2010
Several Australian labor unions have endorsed the international campaign to boycott Israeli goods from the West Bank and are campaigning to get a boycott adopted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the umbrella body. The Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, the Queensland branch of the Rail Tram and Bus Union and the Finance Sector Union all recently passed resolutions supporting the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, which is targeting companies that do business with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Peter Tighe, the national secretary of the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union, told the newspaper ‘The Australian’ that “We are not anti-Jewish; we just think the human misery over there is outrageous. e think the Israeli government is captive to some extreme views on the Right. We think it's got to a stage where we are going to have to have bans across the board. Working people can't sit on their hands forever."
Tighe said he planned to take a resolution to the Australian Council of Trade Unions endorsing the boycott. But Paul Howes, the national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, said he would oppose it. “I am a firm supporter of the State of Israel,” he told the Zionist Federation of Australia’s biennial conference. “I believe that the Jewish people have a right to a homeland. No ifs, no buts.”
Howes was quoted by ‘The Australian’ as saying: "We don't believe that it's in the interests of Palestinian or Israeli workers to seek to divide them in the peace process. Unions are free to do what they wish but certainly I think it's a bit naive. Some unions are not fully aware of what they are signing on to.”
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