At the National Executive Committee of the public services union Unison on 14 July, a full time official blocked a message of support to striking hospital workers in Israel on grounds of the union’s “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) policy.
The official declared the motion invalid because the workers are organised by the Histadrut (the Israeli TUC), and Unison takes its BDS policy to rule out links with it. The Socialist Party, whose members moved the motion, points out that the lack of formal links should not have prevented a message.
But the official got away with it, showing how BDS can cut across worker solidarity.
17% of Israel’s physicians, 24% of its nurses, and 47% of its pharmacists are Arabs.
Unison chose to review its relationship with the Histadrut in 2009. A delegation went to Israel-Palestine in November 2010 and recommended maintaining the link. The Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions continues links with the Histadrut and urges other organisations to do likewise. But the 2010 Unison conference voted to break links with the Histadrut.
BDS policy in unions cuts across solidarity with both Palestinian and Jewish workers in Israel. Links, not boycott!