The key focus of our work with solidarity organisations is to develop programmes of action that will help the union not only take forward its work, but also help develop its internal capacity by working with branches, regions and other relevant parts of the union.
Palestine remains a major focus of our international solidarity work. The key challenge has been the progress on Motion A37 (2008), which seeks to galvanise the work that PCS has been doing in relation to Palestine. We aim to work through political and parliamentary channels to apply pressure on the Government on the issues of the occupation, settlements and “West Bank” goods, and work with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) on its priorities to build itself into a more influential movement and to apply pressure to Government to change its policy in relation to Israel.
Throughout 2008 PCS continues to support PSC, including sponsoring the lobby of Parliament, and plays a key role in the PSC Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC). It is proposed that branches are encouraged to affiliate to and participate in PSC, as well as encouraging individual membership, to become more active and to attend the AGM.
Following the invasion of Gaza and now the agreement of a ceasefire, the PCS National Executive Committee has issued this statement.
PCS deplores the Israeli military incursion into Gaza and the killing of over a thousand innocent civilians – overwhelmingly Palestinians, and the thousands more injured as a result of three weeks of attacks on Gaza. Trade unionists and other workers in Gaza’s vital public services have found themselves under attack and unable to undertake their jobs. Hospitals and schools have been destroyed or damaged, approximately half a million people are without access to running water, and 75% of Gaza is without electricity.
PCS supported the call for an end to the killing and continues to call for an end to the economic blockade of Gaza, which has been in place since mid-2007; its primary impact has been on ordinary working people and their families. Conference 2008 carried a motion condemning Israeli attacks on Gaza, and reiterating PCS policy on the right of the Palestinian people to self determination, with two independent states – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace.
Peace is not possible for Israel until there is a free and independent Palestine, and this can only happen when the siege and occupation have ended and a viable Palestine is created.
PCS will be stepping up political pressure to call on the British government to use its influence on Israel to end its blockade and cease its violations of international law, to ban produce from illegal settlements, to end the arms trade and to refuse to endorse the upgrade of the EU’s trade agreement with Israel.
PCS is urging all branches and members to take part in future protests and other activities towards achieving these aims.
Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a trade unionist; nearly 130 have been murdered between 2007 and 2009. The murderers are amongst the Colombia security forces and right wing paramilitary groups, and are rarely caught. Currently the Colombian Government is trying to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union.
Visit the Justice for Colombia website to campaign against the FTA being given to Colombia, because the Government should not be rewarded with an FTA whilst workers continue to be murdered just for standing up for basic trade union rights. The Colombian trade union movement has asked the European labour movement to support them by stopping this FTA.
PCS is affiliated to the Justice for Colombia campaign and a PCS representative sits on the Executive Committee of the organisation.
PCS participated in two delegations organised by Justice for Colombia in 2005. Deputy general secretary Hugh Lanning participated in a further delegation to Colombia in August 2007.
PCS is affiliated to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign is the British campaign for the defence of Cuba and its peoples' right to self-determination and national sovereignty.
We believe that the people of Cuba, like any other nation, must be free to decide their own internal affairs without outside interference.
We defend, therefore, Cuba's right to national sovereignty, independence and self-determination.
We call for an end to the US trade blockade against Cuba and for the British Government to continue to oppose it.
We call for the normalisation of all diplomatic, economic, cultural and scientific relations with Cuba by the US Government.
For 38 years Cuba, a small nation of 11 million people, has been subjected to sustained interference in its internal affairs by the United States.
We also support CSC’s Miami Five campaign - Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González are five Cubans falsely accused and jailed by the US government of committing espionage against the United States.
PCS is affiliated to the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign and is also co-operating with the Venezuela Information Centre.
A joint fringe meeting was held at annual delegate conference 2007 on Latin America in which the Hands Off Venezuela , Venezuela Information Centre, Cuba Solidarity and Justice for Colombia participated.
PCS continues to support ACTSA’s Dignity Period! Campaign. The union contributed towards the October 2008 Democracy Delegation, and met with Bongani Masuku, International Secretary, Congress of South Africa Trade Unions; Emelda Mhurir, Deputy General Secretary, Civil Service Employers Association; and Barnes Dlamini, Deputy General Secretary, Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions. The three also addressed a PCS Black History Month event and the London & South East Met Police Black Members Forum.
The International Committee will be considering proposals on solidarity initiatives to assist Southern Africa trade unions – possibly focussing on Swaziland, which will be developed through our work with ACTSA. We will meet further with ACSTA to discuss and develop these solidarity initiatives.
PCS has agreed a joint programme with Amnesty International (UK) including working with Proud on LGBT issues.
The intention is to develop regions, branch and individual participation in Amnesty International as PCS is the union with the second largest number of affiliations.
They are also keen for us to refresh our representation with the organisation.
PCS maintains contact with and gives support to the Chagos Islands Community Association (CICA), the main campaigning group in the UK. We have provided speakers at rallies, and co-sponsored the Chagos fringe meeting at the TUC which was addressed by Sue Bond.
In October 2008, the Law Lords ruled 3-2 in favour of the Government which means that the legal battle continues. PCS will continue to offer support to the Islanders campaign.
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Thousands of workers from Gaza who spent years working for private Israeli employers lost their jobs, and money owed them, when the Gaza Strip was sealed off.
Sawt el-Amel’s lawyers have submitted compensation claims for 54 of the workers, totaling more than 5 million shekel (USD 1.3m) worth of severance pay, unpaid holiday, overtime and compensation for work below the national minimum wage. Another 130 cases are under investigation.