Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union with more than 310,000 members across the country, adopted a motion in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement at its recent convention.
The resolution, titled “Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” was put to a vote at the Unifor Canadian Council, which was held Aug. 18-20 at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg.
The resolution, put forth by Unifor Local 222 in Oshawa, Ont., was “easily” passed and stated that it does not condone violence against innocent civilians “or other human rights violations by either side in the conflict.”
It called on Unifor to support the use of BDS tactics to target “sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the OPT (occupied Palestinian territories).”
“Unifor will support such a form of BDS until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction in the OPT, and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state,” the motion said.
The motion also stated that “the International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel’s settlements in the (OPT) violate international law (and that) Israeli settlement expansions in the OPT are an undeniable obstacle to the Israel – Palestine peace-process.”
It further states that despite international pressure, Israel continues to expand its settlements and demolish Palestinian homes.
The resolution also criticized the federal Liberal and Conservative parties for supporting a 2016 motion that condemned promoters of the BDS movement, because it “promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel.”
Later that year, Ontario passed a similar motion rejecting BDS.
The resolution was one of 13 that were adopted at the Unifor convention that was themed, “Solidarity for a better world.”
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies president and CEO Avi Benlolo said that, “While Unifor claims delegates left the convention with the resolve to ‘push back against the rise of the right’ and ‘build a better world,’ passing the BDS motion shows support for what has proven to be an anti-Semitic movement. This motion does not benefit Canadians, or Unifor members in any way.”
“It is appalling that Unifor has allowed itself to be drawn into the anti-Semitic, divisive and counter-productive BDS campaign against Israel. The resolution that passed last week at Unifor’s Canadian Council is misguided and shameful, and it suggests that Unifor has a complete lack of understanding of the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. BDS has been roundly rejected by all major federal political parties,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
“We would invite Unifor to reach out to its labour counterparts in the Israeli Histadrut movement to learn why the passage of this resolution moves us further from peace and is detrimental to Palestinians and Israelis alike.”
According to a press release put out after the convention, Unifor is following the lead of the Palestinian trade union movement.