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Trade unions in India and abroad express solidarity with Palestinians, Indian trade unions reject call to ‘export’ Indian workers to Israel

‘Nothing could be more immoral and disastrous for India than the said ‘export’ of workers to Israel…We demand an immediate halt to Israeli aggression against Palestine; end its occupation; we demand that the Palestinian right to a sovereign homeland be upheld’: Joint statement

Radiance News Service

Nov. 10, 2023
In the form of a strongly worded joint statement, the major trade unions in India have rejected any call to ‘export’ Indian workers to Israel to replace Palestinian workers. This statement, which includes signatories like AICCTU, CITU and others came amid media reports stating that the construction industry in Israel has asked the government to allow companies to recruit 1 lakh Indian workers to replace the 90,000 Palestinians whose work permits have been cancelled since the recent onslaught on Gaza began.

The statement was released on behalf of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), and several other union organisations.

It jointly called for India’s trade union movements to show solidarity with Palestinian workers by refusing to replace them.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Israel Builders Association vice president Haim Feiglin was quoted saying, “We hope to engage 50,000 to 100,000 workers from India to be able to run the whole sector and bring it back to normal. We are at war and the Palestinian workers, which are about 25% of our human resources in the sector, are not coming, are not permitted to work in Israel.”

CITU, in a separate statement, also said that it “reiterates its demand upon the government of India to refuse to respond to any such purported move of the Israeli government and the Builders’ Association there. The government of India must rather support, shunning all vacillation, the latest UN Resolution for an immediate ceasefire by Israel on a humanitarian truce and to ensure a Palestinian homeland with a pre-1967 border, free from all occupation.”

AICCTU (affiliated to the CPI-ML Liberation), in an online statement also said that it “warns the Modi government not to invest in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the genocidal war it is waging on the Palestinians…and calls upon the construction workers of India to refuse to work for Israel. Let’s resolve that we will not work to replace Palestinian workers in Israel.”

The Construction Workers Federation of India said that it “strongly objects to any attempt to send the poor construction workers of our country to Israel to overcome its shortage of workers and in any way support its genocidal attacks on Palestine killing thousands of innocent people including children and women.”

Similarly, in the United Kingdom in Rochester, Kent, hundreds of trade union members have blockaded a factory which manufactures weapons in protest over the Israel-Gaza conflict. The blockade was organised as part of an International Day of Action for Palestine.

Trade union activists in a statement said that the UK industry “provides 15% of the components in the F35 stealth combat aircraft that are currently being used in the bombardment of Gaza”.

Earlier in October, Palestinian trade unions released an urgent call for international trade unions to take action to halt the global arms trade with Israel. Unionist protests in solidarity with Palestine have taken place in many countries across the world – a large march in Melbourne, Australia took place earlier this month including a solidarity action group called Unionists for Palestine, Barcelona port workers in Spain have resolved to not transport weapons to Israel and there have been protests in the form of mass picketing and blockading of arms factories in UK and other countries.

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