South African trade union calls for boycott in fresh solidarity declaration
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South African trade union calls for boycott in fresh solidarity declaration

The Food and Allied Workers’ Union (FAWU) has condemned three major South African food stores – Shoprite Checkers, Pick ‘n Pay and Fruit and Veg – for their import of agricultural produce from Israel.

In a press statement released on 23 January the Union state:

“We are appalled at the insensitivity towards the plight of the Palestinian people by the procurement of supplies from an oppressive, apartheid country like Israel. It seems like rubbing salt in the wounds of Palestinians to procure supplies.

Citing the continuing imports of avocado pears from Israel, the press statement goes on to state that:

“We are convinced that the import of these goods are in contravention of the spirit of various International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions.

“We call on the above retailers to immediately cease importing produce from Israel . Whilst we are glad about the number of locally procured goods, we feel that stores like yourselves could easily procure these “out of season” goods from other countries, even if it means paying a slightly higher price. According to figures quoted by Shoprite Group Managing Director, Brian Weyers, the store imports 1,12% of total imported produce from Israel. Being a relatively small percentage, it should therefore not make a huge difference to import from other countries who do not oppress.

“Retailers such as yourselves should not have to wait for formal trade agreements by e.g. the UN or South African government to behave in a morally acceptable manner by rejecting produce from oppressive countries like Israel. In fact, experience in the apartheid South Africa era should have taught us to set the standard when it comes to condemning racist, oppressive behaviour.”

The Call echoes some of the appeals made in recent months from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), a federation of numerous trade unions and is based in the spirit of the international solidarity which marked global anti-apartheid boycotts and sanctions in the 1970s and 80s.