Labour for Palestine contingent march in solidarity with Palestinian workers
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Labour for Palestine contingent march in solidarity with Palestinian workers

Canada: Earlier this month, union activists from the Labour for Palestinian network marched in the Toronto Labour Day parade. The network brings together rank and file union activists who promote the BDS campaign within their respective unions.

***image1***Marching as part of the Canadian Union of Public Employees under the banner of ‘Free Palestine – Boycott Israeli Apartheid’, activists set up a float with an 8-foot high Handala structure and large photographs of Palestinian workers with attached explanations of their plight under the Occupation’s apartheid regime. Activists also distributed three thousand leaflets explaining the BDS campaign and urging trade unionists to become positively involved in the Palestinian struggle.

The Palestine float received strong support at the event, with workers from other contingents marching alongside it. Representatives from Palestine House Cultural and Community Center, who supported the construction of the float, were also in attendance.

Palestine solidarity and the support for BDS within the Canadian trade unions have made important strides over the past years. Union activists have worked tirelessly, educating and advocating for boycott within their unions. These efforts have produced important results and in 2006 the Ontario division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents 200,000 workers, voted in favour of a boycotting Israel. In 2008 a similar motion was passed by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, representing 50,000 workers. Activists continue to produce new material for raising awareness about the situation on the ground, and in May Labour for Palestine published the second edition of a reader that deals with the Palestinian struggle and Zionism, the labour movement and the BDS campaign.

These events have made Canada one of the focal points of union BDS movement. Not all developments have been positive; with Canada’s Carpenters’ Union recently passing a recent resolution in support of the Occupation. However, even this setback has its positive side, indicating that the BDS movement in Canada is becoming a significant part of union discussion and politics.