TUC Spokesperson Addresses Demonstration Against Israel's War on Gaza
Speech to London Gaza Demonstration Sally Hunt, TUC international spokesperson
10 January 2009
The trade union movement unreservedly condemns this illegal war on the people of Gaza. We join the United Nations in calling for an immediate ceasefire.
Our government and the EU must pressure Israel and Hamas to end this war. No more bombs, no more murder, no more excuses.
The TUC - and the six and a half million workers we represent - demand that our government and the EU takes the action needed to force an end to the terror. They have the power. We urge them to find the will.
The TUC speaks for a two-state solution. But a two state solution means a just and lasting peace: two sovereign states respecting each other's right to exist - free of occupation, free of illegal settlements, and free of illegal walls.
No solution is just that allows one side to bomb and terrorise the other into submission. That treats international law as a disposable commodity, to be tossed away when it is no longer needed. That allows negotiation to be trumped by violence.
Workers in Gaza's hospitals, schools and police stations are paying the human price of this violence - killed or injured just for showing up for work, or hiding in their homes.
Mohammed Samouni was a father of six, working for CARE distributing food. He was killed last Tuesday by an air strike.
Ambulance workers have been bombed and fired upon while trying to rescue the injured. Scores of children are among the dead.
This war is illegal. It is unjust. We demand its end, and we demand lasting justice for Gaza. Thousands of business and tens of thousands of jobs have disappeared. Half of the people of Gaza live in extreme poverty, two thirds are refugees, and most are without a job.
For the one and a half million people of Gaza, conditions are desperate. A million are now without power, half are without clean water, and food and medical supplies are a rare commodity.
The global trade union movement, representing hundreds of millions of workers, adds its voice to demands for desperately needed humanitarian relief.
The Israeli invasion is spreading nothing but anger and grief. It achieves nothing but misery. And as the conflict continues, the chances for a just and lasting peace fade.
Trade unionists in the UK will not stand by and watch this happen. Thousands of us are here today, showing solidarity with the people of Palestine. But we are not just taking to the streets. We're providing urgently needed support for our sisters and brothers in Gaza.
Just two days ago, the International Transport Worker's Federation through their affiliate in Jordan, working jointly with the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions flew food and medical supplies into Egypt for the Red Crescent to take into Gaza.
This takes real guts - and it needs our real support. This is what the TUC's 'Give for Gaza' appeal is doing - your organisation can send the TUC a cheque, or you and your friends and colleagues can donate online at the TUC website.
We urge you to support it. And we urge you to tell your friends and colleagues to channel their grief and frustration into this brave and practical support.
We must make sure too, that this conflict does not become the excuse for anti-semitism or islamophobia here. Trade unionists must defend and protect anyone attacked because of their religion - we must give greater support to Searchlight, to Unite Against Fascism, be firmer and stronger in our opposition to the BNP and its politics of hate.
There are no winners in this conflict - in the Middle East or here - only sorrow and body bags.
Only when Palestinians and Israelis secure the right to live and work in peace and prosperity can we speak of winners.
The trade unions of this country demand peace for all living through this terror - peace for ordinary people whoever they are, whichever their country, whatever their religion.
It is their right
We say cease the killing
End the war
Stop this slaughter now