23 May 2013 -A solidarity fund launched today by the ITF to raise £40, 000 to support Palestinian drivers and their union in Gaza got off to a flying start, with immediate union pledges totalling over £13, 000.
The ITF executive board decided to launch the fund, following calls for support to rebuild union membership in Gaza from the leaders of the ITF’s two Palestinian affiliates, the Palestinian General Transport Workers Union (PGTWU) in the West Bank and the Bus Drivers’ Union (BDU) in Gaza. The affliates said that, after a period when it had been very difficult to operate in Gaza, they now believed there was an opportunity for the BDU to begin operating again but that financial support was urgently needed.
The solidarity fund will raise funds for an office for the BDU to support its training and organising work.
At the executive board meeting, ITF president and Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin and Bob Crow, general secretary of UK transport union the RMT, each pledged £5, 000 from their unions, while Peter Kennedy, secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Auto Workers, pledged 5, 000 Canadian dollars.
Kennedy said: “We are proud to contribute to the ITF solidarity fund, which will make a big difference to the union and Palestinian transport workers on the ground in Gaza.”
Crow added: “BDU desperately needs international funding to get back on its feet. Then it can concentrate on organising workers in Gaza, who face severe daily difficulties and need a strong union to support them in the fight for their rights.”
Workers in Gaza were well organised until 2007, when the Hamas government requisitioned the BDU union’s offices and tried to replace it with its own organisation. The union office was later destroyed during an Israeli air raid.
To donate to the fund, download solidarity resources (including a website ad and resolution for union and supporter meetings) and find out about the ITF’s work in Palestine, visit the ITF’s webpage here.