Justice for Palestine will come from the grassroots, TUC fringe hears

12 Sep 2017

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told delegates attending a fringe meeting by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign that he believed "ordinary trade unionists" should have the opportunity to travel to Palestine to see the consistent day-to-day abuse of human rights residents experience.

"We have to do more of that work that arranges ordinary trade unionist and spread the word in their branch," he said.

Mark said that he was struck by the low level harassment experienced by Palestinians every day when he visited in 2008 as part of a union contingent. But he said, while it is low level, it absolutely ruins lives.

"It's a suppression of human rights at each and every level," he said.

Speaking alongside Mark was Ben Jamal from PSC who said that the trade union movement "is crucial for us achieving our goals".


Grassroots activism

"As we stand here today we have seen a shift. All major trade unions are now affiliated with PSC", he added.

But, he asked: "But how do we use it? How do we translate the leadership we have into grassroots activism?"

This was a point which was also made by Mark and supported by other speakers.

Much was made of a 4 November London rally, which Jamal said he wanted to be the "largest yet".

"I want to see the biggest crowds that we've seen in the UK, all coming out in support, we marched in 2004 and we saw thousands," he said

"It's time to make it right. It is time for justice. It is time for Palestine."

The meeting marked the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which announced support for the establishment of a "national home" for the Jewish people in Palestine.

Aimee Shalan, CEO of Medical Aid for Palestinians, which campaigns for Palestinians to have access to healthcare, said that the largest challenge they face is "the rapidly increasing insecurity in all our fields."

"The social fabric is under severe strain and remaining hopeful is a huge challenge for those living there. But for us here in the UK optimism is the least they deserve," she said.

Read more news from TUC 2017.

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