Putting The Trade Union Leaders To Shame

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SEVEN people were arrested at Prestwick Airport yesterday, after appointing themselves as ‘citizen weapons inspectors’, and forcing themselves onto a US cargo flight to check out whether the plane was carrying deadly guided bombs for the use of Israeli forces in their bombing campaign against women, children and workers in the Lebanon.

The seven are members of a ‘Trident Ploughshares’ campaign group. Well done, and what a good example!

Last Sunday four people were held and arrested by police after they broke through security fencing and penetrated to the main runway. They are doubly correct not to trust the declaration of the British government that US military flights carrying these guided bombs to Israel would no longer be using British commercial airports.

These ‘weapons inspectors’ are putting the trade union leaders to shame. Their organisations such as the TGWU, GMB, BALPA, and Amicus have many tens of thousands of members in the network of British airports, and should be using that power to stop, search and permanently halt all US and UK flights that are carrying US and British war material to Israel.

In fact, three union leaders, Barry Camfield, an assistant general secretary of the TGWU, Billy Hayes of the CWU postal workers union, and Mark Serwotka of the PCS civil servants trade union spoke at last Saturday’s 100,000 strong demonstration being held in support of the Lebanese and Palestinian people, and in opposition to the Israeli onslaught on them, which is being supported by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair.

Camfield called for ‘A cease-fire now’ and declared: ‘Blair is sanctioning murder in the Middle East’ adding ‘He does not speak for us.’

Hayes declared that ‘MPs should get back from their holidays and tell the British government to call for a cease-fire now’.

However these leaders know full well that more is required than a few words, and that waiting for Labour MPs to come back from their holidays in several months time is a complete evasion, especially when Lebanese workers and children are being murdered every day.

Camfield, Hayes and Serwotka know that the trade unions have the power to take Britain out of this war, and to give massive material and political support to the masses of the Lebanon and Palestine. Along with the other TUC leaders they must take action, since words are not saving a single child’s life.

The first thing that the British trade unions must do is to call an emergency meeting of the TUC General Council and bring in a complete boycott of Israel to stop the arms shipments, both American and British, and to prevent the use of British airports for their despatch.

The TUC must organise mass demonstrations outside all US and RAF air bases in the UK from which arms and bombs are being sent to Israel.

The TUC trade unions must also deal with this government. The Labour government is their government. They are supporting it to the tune of millions of pounds of trade union money every year. Their government has the blood of the Palestinian and Lebanese workers on its hands.

Once again, if the words about their government ‘sanctioning murder in the Middle East’ mean anything then they must deal with their government.

They must put down an emergency motion for next month’s TUC Congress calling a general strike to bring this imperialist government down and bring in a workers’ government.

This must carry out socialist policies and withdraw all British troops from the Middle East and give every support to the struggles of the Lebanese and Palestinian people.

What is required now is action, and decisive action at that – not more words.