Palestinian Leader Addresses San Francisco Trade Unionists
|A LAST MINUTE call went out by the San Francisco Labor Council (SFLC) for a
breakfast talk by Palestinian labor leader Manawel Issa Abdellall at ILWU
International headquarters on July 12. The ILWU boardroom was filled with
about 40 Bay Area trade unionists who came to hear Brother Abdellall, an
Executive Committee member of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade
Unions (PGFTU), speak on "how Palestinian working people are enduring and
resisting the brutal Israeli occupation".
He emphasized that the PGFTU does not support any political party and
promotes secular, nonsectarian methods of organizing based on workers'
rights. He explained that since the recent elections won by Hamas, the
Israeli government has imposed sanctions on Palestinians that has created
60% unemployment amongst Palestinian workers and made it virtually
impossible to pass through the "Apartheid Wall" to go to work in Israel. The
PGFTU has been attacked primarily by the Israeli army ransacking its
headquarters and destroying computers and information discs in Ramallah.
ILWU Local 10 condemned similar Zionist attacks in 2002. Recently, in Gaza,
Hamas destroyed the union's radio broadcasting facility and occupied the
union's building donated by Norwegian trade unions. And Fatah has also
attacked the PGFTU for not being sufficiently critical of Hamas. Brother
Abdellall clarified that the recent fighting in Gaza was between only one
faction of Fatah, the Dahlan faction that works closely with the Israeli
military and the CIA, against Hamas which has gained control of Gaza.
The Palestinian trade union federation has sent letters of thanks to the
Canadian Union of Public Employees, the British union of public workers,
UNISON, and COSATU, the union federation of South Africa, for supporting
Palestinian workers by calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. Several of
the participants compared the situation of Palestinian workers to that faced
by black South Africans under apartheid. After the discussion period was
over Tim Paulson, SFLC Secretary-Treasurer, introduced ILWU International
officers, Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams and Vice President Joe Radisich,
who presented longshore hooks to the Palestinian leaders.
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