Good news from the RMT (rail union) Annual General Meeting: they’ve voted by more than a two thirds majority for a two states, anti-Hamas postion on Israel / Palestine, and overturned the union’s previous policy which advocated a boycott of Israel.
This may not seem a particularly big deal, as it merely reiterates the traditional position of left-wingers, secularists and progressives in the Middle East itself. However, in the UK (and to a lesser extent elsewhere in Western Europe and the US), there has in recent years been a concerted drive to delegitimise the state of Israel, reject “two states” and offer de facto support to anti-semitic, clerical fascist forces like Hamas. This tendency (spearheaded by the British SWP and other “left” anti-semites) has usually taken the form of the call to boycott Israel and has achieved limited success at the national conferences of some UK unions, most recently and notoriously the UCU.
The RMT victory is particularly significant because it overturned the existing pro-boycott position of the union and because (unlike most of the unions which have passed pro-boycott motions recently), there was a proper debate and none of the usual abuse and accusations of Zionist conspiracies, etc, etc. It was also remarkable to see RMT General Secretary Bob Crow defeated on the question of the boycott – the only issue on which he has (so far) lost a vote at the AGM.
The Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) were a major force (though not alone) in organising to win the debate and the vote; AWL supporter Janine Booth comments:
“I think we won…because of leading on condemnation of Israel’s action and support for the Palestinians, then pitching the issue in terms of unity and solidarity (trade union principles) versus boycott (passive and divisive).”
NB: While we’re on the subject of the RMT: London Underground cleaners, organised by that union, will be on strike tomorrow (26th June) and again on 1st and 2nd July, demanding £7.20 per hour (the GLA minimum wage), proper sick pay, final salary pensions and proper disciplinary procedures. These mainly migrant workers will welcome support on their picket lines, especially on their night shifts at major stations from 10pm. If you want to help, contact
h/t for the cleaners stuff: Stroppy.