Israel/Palestine,  UK Politics

RMT union reverses Israel-boycott position

After a year or so of dismal news about trade unions approving or threatening various “boycotts” of Israel, there’s some good news which I hope signals the beginning of a trend.

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty reports:

The 2008 Annual General Meeting of the RMT transport union voted by a more than two-thirds majority for a two-states, pro-solidarity, anti-boycott, anti-Hamas position on Israel/Palestine, overturning existing pro-boycott policy.

More than forty of the 60 or so delegates to conference voted for the motion with 7 votes against and 9 abstentions. The conference accepted the parts of the motion calling for a democratic national settlement for both Israelis and Palestinians (two states for two peoples) and supported the criticisms of Hamas – neither of these positions are common currency on the British ‘Left’. The sole bone of contention was the proposal to remove pro-boycott policy.

That an overwhelming majority of conference delegates voted against a boycott of Israel is significant. The SWP in particular have waged a long battle inside the University and College Union (formerly the AUT and NATFHE) for an academic boycott and have made similar moves in other unions.

Supporters of the RMT motion – including Workers’ Liberty members – worked hard to explain the political situation in Israel/Palestine, argued for the union to recognise the plight of the Palestinian people, organise meaningful solidarity with Israeli and Palestinian trade unions and explained the negative impact of boycott policies on such efforts at solidarity.

In contrast to UCU conferences and discussions the debate within RMT was conducted without resorting to abuse and allegation. Nobody was called a “Zionist” or a “supporter of imperialism”.