May 1 message by the New Unions (PFNTU)
To workers every were in this world,
To all trade unions representing the workers and leading the workers struggle for their rights,
In this day, the day of labour struggle and internationalism of the working class against class oppression and exploitation and all forms of racism and racial discrimination, the Palestinian New Federation of Trade Unions (PNFTU) salutes all those workers and trade unions that are with us in the struggle for workers rights and against capitalism and neoliberalism. We wish your struggles success, so that we advance together towards a world of peace, justice and equality away from wars, colonialism and savage globalization and the increase of right wing governments and forces as well as austerity policies across the globe can be defeated.
The PNFTU has announced its official recognition as trade union federation in a labour conference on March 19 2016, in the presence of representatives of our grassroots base as well as those of Palestinian political parties and authorities and international supporters. We are proud that after 5 years of organizing and mobilizing of Palestinian workers, the PNFTU has been strengthened by official recognition in a moment of ongoing mobilization and strikes of the Palestinian working class.
Our efforts started in 2010 with a successful labor strike of 90 workers in a chemical factory in the settlement industrial zone in Tulkarem city, in the north of the West Bank. The strike lasted for six months before we were able to achieve our aims and saw our demands fulfilled. The failure of the then existing trade union federations to support the workers in their strike, was the main reason behind the decision of these workers to renew our labour movement and to establish new and independent unions.
Today the PNFTU is formed of 26 regional branches of different sector unions and represents more than ten thousand workers from different sectors of Palestinian economy, including construction workers, food industry workers, agricultural workers, textile workers, public service workers, secretarial and administrative workers, transportation workers, mechanics and employees of the tourist services. We are committed to the legacy of the Palestinian national and class struggle for justice, democracy and freedom and it is our mission to defend and achieve labour and national rights for the Palestinian working class, always upholding our principles of unity, class consciousness, democracy and independence.
Since the beginning of 2016, the Palestinian labour movement has been organizing growing mass protests to demand our rights. During January and February, the Palestinian teachers union has maintained unity in an almost two months long strike for decent salaries and benefits. We have been actively supporting their efforts and applaud their determination.
On April 19, some ten thousand people have marched through Ramallah to oppose the so-called ‘social security’ law. PNFTU is part of the national committee formed to coordinate and organize the struggle to stop this law and to protect our rights. If implemented as suggested, this law would put our pension fund savings at risk, legitimize Israeli theft of the union fees of Palestinian workers employed in Israeli business and discriminate against large sections of our society. The PNFTU, the left-wing parliamentary blocs and other independent trade unions, civil society institutions and human rights organizations, will continue to organize mass demonstrations against this law.
On this occasion we renew our commitment to our working class to continue the struggle for labour rights as much as for our national rights. We believe that the neoliberal policies implemented by the Palestinian authorities and the exploitation imposed by employers are not only violations of labour rights but directly undermine from within the capacity of the Palestinian society to remain steadfast against Israeli occupation and apartheid.
We thank all those unions and labour activists that throughout the decades have stood with our people in solidarity. We deeply appreciate your efforts and your commitment to internationalism and call upon you to continue to support our struggle for self-determination and the decolonization of Palestine. Today, that Israeli policies continue to hold Gaza under inhumane siege, the majority of our people is still dispersed as refugees unable to return to their homes, thousands are held in Israeli prisons, home demolitions and confiscations are intensified with the aim to cleanse 60% of the occupied West Bank from its Palestinian people, your solidarity is more important than ever.
We renew the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) until Israel respects international law and human rights. Over history, from Ireland to India, from South Africa to the United States – workers and citizens have proven that boycotts are among the most powerful and convincing tools people’s movements and solidarity actions can choose in front of intransigent and unbearable oppression. The BDS movement is today an integral part of the Palestinian national liberation struggle and has empowered international solidarity globally to achieve concrete and effective change.
Let us work together against all forms of oppression and exploitation,
Long live the May 1!
Executive committee of the Palestinian New Federation of Trade Unions,
1st of May, 2016