[Hat tip to Labour Start]
The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine is organizing a Conference of Independent Trade Unions in Ramallah on July 27 and 28. The conference is an opportunity for democratic and independent trade unions to gather and “make their voices heard.” More concretely, the aim of “the conference is to strengthen independent trade unions and to liberate the labor movement from the hegemony of political factions and the Palestinian Authority.”
Independent and democratic unions in the following sectors will participate in the founding conference: financial, health, pharmaceutical, university professors and employees, telecommunications, municipalities and electricity. An independent union movement is necessary as the four main labor federations are controlled by Fatah and Hamas. Internal union democracy, from the local level up, is necessary as the leadership of these federations is made on a top-down political basis. This has contributed to a politically divided trade union movement in Palestine.
I wish them the best and am concerned about their security. Their direct opposition to armed political forces—in Marxist parlance, “at the point of production”—places these labor activists and their families at great risk. As in other authoritarian polities—Iran, Zimbabwe, etc.—democratic and independent trade unionists are in the vanguard of civil-society efforts to reform, transform, and in some cases, remove authoritarian regimes.
Updates on the conference will be posted as they are made available.