I want to begin by thanking all the Unions present who supported the CWU motion this morning which called for the lifting of the siege upon Gaza.
I was delighted to see how little opposition there was in the Congress Hall to our proposal.
This is a big tribute to work that supporters of the Palestinians have carried out in recent years inside the trade unions.
The Unions in Britain are fairly cautious organisations. It takes a lot of work and dedication to change their policies. But having changed policy the unions are also reluctant to shift again.
This means that it will be very difficult for the supporters of the Israeli Government to win back the unions. We have established support for the Palestinians as the mainstream view in the British unions.
Now, our main efforts have to turn towards making the policy an active one.
I think this has certainly been the case with the TUC’s position on settlement goods. The TUC has worked well with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Together notable victories have been won in blocking settlement goods which are outlined in the TUC’s Annual Report.
How then do we take this morning’s resolution forward? I think we have to ensure, at the General Council and Executive, that proper consideration is given towards implementation.
The delegation to Gaza will take a little time to pull together. But I assume we can get a commitment from a number of senior leaders inside the unions.
This will have an impact. The TUC’s cautious reputation precedes it in the international sphere to.
So there will be some surprise about our initiative. But it is only by encouraging an active dialogue with the Palestinians in Gaza that we can build up the pressure upon the British and other Governments to act.
After all, there is no shortage of formal opposition to the siege. The Quartet opposes the siege, the UN opposes it, the EU opposes it, the US Government opposes it and the UK Government opposes it.
Yet they do nothing to press the Israeli Government on this. In a small way, the TUC’s delegation can become part of a wider movement to have it lifted.
We must aim for the same type of result as on settlement goods.
That is, to win mainstream opinion and political activity which demands an end to the siege.
The dispossession of the Palestinians is one of the most important human rights violations in the world today.
Within that, the siege of the Palestinians in Gaza is a case of collective punishment against a poor and very young society.
Along side the PSC, and all those of goodwill, we must step up our work in support of the Palestinians.
Thanks for listening.