Stop the Wall extended an invitation from the Palestinian New Unions for a coalition of labor organizers from the United States to visit Palestine. The New Unions is a newly formed independent federation of trade unions that formed during a 6-month strike in Tulkarem, in the West Bank of Palestine, when workers in the illegal settlements there went on strike. In response to a lack of support from the established trade unions and their corresponding political parties, an independent initiative of autonomous workers committees that included grassroots community organizers and organizations, mobilized to support the workers. Building off of the victory of this struggle, they decided to build their own unions, independent of political parties, lead by and accountable to the workers and in federation with one another.
Palestinian workers face exploitation from Israeli, Settlement and Palestinian employers and corporations, repression and restrictions on freedom of movement and employment by occupying Israeli forces and government, and working conditions that are illegal and in egregious violation of their most basic human rights. They utilize both traditional labor strategies and tactics as well as those they have learned from the grassroots Palestinian movement in order to protect workers and win demands. They are in full support of the grassroots Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli occupying state. The leadership of the New Unions largely comes from organizers who were active in established trade unions. The New Unions collaborate with established trade unions when in the interest of the workers and apply pressure when needed. In some cases, the New Unions have become the local chapters of established trade unions and participate as such in those unions.
The invitation from the New Unions is available at the bottom of this e-mail. IJAN-Labor is now exploring putting together a labor delegation “of U.S. trade unionists and independent, unrepresented members of the labor movement planned for the late fall of 2014, or the early beginning of 2015, is intended to raise awareness about and the visibility of Palestinian workers, their organizations and their struggle for freedom, justice and equality, a joint struggle of workers worldwide.”