Christina McAnea joins solidarity mission to Palestine

“Gaza needs a ceasefire now if there is to be any hope of peace, justice and a viable Palestinian state”

Last week, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea joined a solidarity mission to Ramallah in Palestine on behalf of public services international (PSI).

The Council of Global Unions solidarity mission marks the first time such a large and high-level group of union leaders have convened in Palestine. The visit comes amid mounting international condemnation over the ongoing killing and mass displacement of civilians in Gaza and the worsening repression in the West Bank.

The visit underlined the global labour movement’s support for an urgent ceasefire in Gaza and a free, sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel.

PSI’s Palestinian affiliates taking part in the visit expressed concern over the extreme economic hardship experienced in Gaza and the West Bank, where many government workers are receiving half or no salary due to the government of Israel withholding customs revenue from the Palestinian Authority.

The unions also highlighted the problem of the Israeli government controlling access to work permits and the widespread use of exploitative labour brokers who take up to 50% of Palestinian wages to provide a work permit.The Israel government’s withdrawal of tens of thousands of permits for Palestinian workers has led to increased unemployment and poverty in the West Bank.

In a recent short film produced by PSI, the General Trade Union of Health Workers in Gaza and the Public Services Union shared their struggle to maintain health provision in Gaza under increasingly difficult circumstances. But PSI has now reported that it has lost contact with comrades from these organisations who are sheltering in Rafah as bombardments continue.

Last week, the delegation released a co-authored statement signed by the Council of Global Unions carrying an important message of solidarity to the workers of the region. Affiliates from across the region emphasised the need for: 

  • Permanent ceasefire and end to the ongoing aggression against the Gaza Strip 
  • Involvement of the PSI National Coordination Committee in Gaza in any action or relief plan, as the sectors destroyed in the Gaza war are mostly public service sectors
  • Increased pressure on developed countries that suspended their support for the UNRWA to retract their decision 
  • Providing medical and humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip and urgent protection for medical teams.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The relentless bombardment of Gaza over the last eight months has claimed tens of thousands of lives, displaced most, and reduced entire neighbourhoods to rubble.

“Gaza needs a ceasefire now if there is to be any hope of peace, justice and a viable Palestinian state.

“Everything I saw and heard in the West Bank reinforced the need for an immediate end to the current hostilities and the 57-year occupation, which has denied Palestinians access to decent work, public services and other fundamental rights.”