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Date: 17 April 2007

Middle East conflict ‘punishes' workers in Israel and Palestine

UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union today, urged trade unionists to build support for the peace process between Israel and Palestine, by continuing to work with the Palestinian trade unions, but to seek dialogue with Israeli trade unionists.

Mike Kirby, UNISON's Scottish Convenor, speaking at the annual STUC Congress in Glasgow, said "Palestinian public service workers haven't been paid for 11 months because the USA and Europe have blocked payments to the Palestinian Authority. Blocked payments because the people of Palestine exercised their democratic right to elect a government of their choosing. It is also well known that there are huge levels of poverty in Palestine - 65% of the workforce are unemployed, and 70% live below the poverty line.

"What is less well-known is that in Israel too, public service workers have been going without pay. Two weeks ago there was a strike of municipal workers in airports and seaports because they hadn't been paid for 6 months 20% of Israelis also live below the poverty line. And these are a direct result of the Israeli ‘War economy'.

"We need to continue and try to build on the connections between Israeli and Palestinian workers that started at the STUC last year. And we should say to Israel - Your security cannot be achieved by occupation. Occupation evokes resistance.”


For Further Information Please Contact: Mike Kirby(Scottish Convenor) 0845 355 0845(w) 07803 952 261(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)