UNISON delegates voting at the conference yesterday
UNISON delegates voting at the conference yesterday

THE UNISON National Delegate Conference in Bournemouth yesterday voted for a campaign to bring about a change to UK and EU governments’ policies towards Palestine, and to support the Hamas government in Gaza.

Tony Phillips, London Fire Brigade UNISON, referring to Gaza, said: ‘1.5 million people are trapped in what is known as the world’s largest open prison.

‘Palestinians on the West Bank suffer the expansion of settlements and the Apartheid Wall.

‘The continual repression of Palestinians by the Israeli state has driven them to fight back.

‘We support the election of Hamas.

‘We need to work with our trade unions to fight for the end of the repression against Palestinians.

‘We need to change the policy of the British government.

‘The election of Hamas was democratically carried out and recognised.

‘But the British government refuses to recognise this democratically-elected government.

‘We have to step up our efforts to support the Palestinians.’

The motion called for an end to the arms trade between Israel and Britain and EU member states, leading to a mandatory United Nations arms embargo.

It called for ‘A ban on imports of all goods, and especially agricultural produce, from the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories’ and the ‘Recognition of the outcome of the last elections to the Palestinian Authority, which were certified as free and fair by international observers.’

The motion also called on the union’s NEC to ‘ensure that the union divests itself of any holdings in companies responsible for maintaining the illegal Wall, condemned by the International Court of Justice.’

Moving the motion on behalf of the UNISON NEC, Alison Shepherd, chair of UNISON’s International Committee, said: ‘It’s been 60 years since the Naqba (catastrophe) which led to nearly 900,000 Palestinian refugees fleeing their homes.

‘It’s been 40 years since the illegal occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and now we’ve seen the pictures of Gaza, which show people living in desperation.’

Speaking for the motion, Bob Deacon, from Wolverhampton, said: ‘Palestinians suffer from racism and colonialism day after day.

‘It has been going on so long.’

Diana James, from Islington, said she had visited Palestine.

She said: ‘My children will never have to see their father beaten up at checkpoints or see their mother humiliated by Israeli soldiers.’

She called on delegates to ‘go back to your branches and make sure they know about what is going on in Palestine’.

• Delegates also voted for Motion 65 supporting trade unions in Colombia and condemning the government and multinational corporations over their alleged links with death squads.

The motion condemned the murder of Colombian trade unionists. Twenty-six have died this year.