British RMT union shows solidarity with Israeli and Palestinian transport workers

Avi Edri, the Chairman of the Israeli transport workers’ union at RMT conference

The British National Union of Rail, Martine and Transport Workers union (RMT) is hosting an Israeli and a Palestinian delegate at its annual conference in the Isle of Man this week (28 June–3 July 2009).

Avi Edri, the Chairman of the Israeli transport workers’ union addressed the conference on Monday 29 June and gave a message of solidarity.

He spoke about the development of his union’s relationship with Palestinian counterparts and gave a warning about the damage boycotts could do to ongoing Israeli-Palestinian trade union co-operation.

The Palestinian delegate from the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), Fathi Nasser, is due to address the conference on Tuesday (30 June).

The director of Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI), Stephen Scott, was present at the conference on Monday and commended the RMT for “showing solidarity with both Israeli and Palestinian transport workers and supporting their positive co-operation”.

Israeli and Palestinian transport unions have been working together since 2007 after they signed a number of collaborative agreements at a meeting organised by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

Both parties have been working to improve the passage of professional drivers at checkpoints and road blocks in the West Bank and have set up a ‘transport hotline’.

At RMT’s annual conference last year, the union called for a democratic two-state settlement for Israelis and Palestinians, and rejected “passive and divisive tactics such as boycotts,” which it called “inconsistent with the principles of unity and solidarity between workers that our union stands for and wishes to promote.”