Saturday, March 26, the Palestine New Federation of Trade Unions (New Unions) have celebrated their official recognition as trade union federation by the Palestinian authorities and at the same time have held their annual congress, voting for a new union council and executive committee. The New Unions unite today 26 trade unions in all of the 10 West Bank districts and represent around 10 000 workers from all sectors.
The event was packed and representatives from a large spectrum of political and social forces addressed the New Unions with their messages of support. Everybody stressed the hope that the New Unions will bring new force to the class struggle in Palestine and strengthen the national struggle for self-determination.
Muhammad Jawabreh, a long standing unionist and one of the co-founders of the New Unions, gave the opening remarks of the congress and declared the birth of this new progressive trade union, which works to achieve the right to a free life with dignity for all workers and keeps committed to the legacy of the Palestinian national and class struggle for justice, democracy and freedom.
Nasser Qatami, deputy minister of labour, congratulated the New Union for the official recognition as a trade union confederation and expressed the readiness of the ministry to cooperate and facilitate the work of the union in order for them to achieve the goals they have been established for. Bassam al Salhi, secretary general of the Palestinian People’s Party, encouraged all to support the New Unions and to strengthen their role in defending the interest of the workers and improving their conditions. He underlined that there is no contradiction between a diversity of unions and confederations and unity in the class struggle. Omar Shahadeh, conveyed greetings of secretary general of the PFLP Ahmad Saadat and his deputy Ahmad Fuad. He underlined their full support to the New Unions and the establishment of the new confederation will form a concrete step towards bringing the trade union movement in Palestine back on the right track and to reinforce the international solidarity with the palestinian people and working class.
Thomas from the Norwegian ‘Workers Mate’ association addressed the congress reiterating their support for the New Unions and promised the Workers Mate will continue support the struggle of the Palestinian people through boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns, including building efforts to boycott the Israeli trade union confederation Histadrut, which historically and up to today has played a key role in supporting and facilitating Israeli policies of discrimination and ethnic cleansing of the PAlestinian people and occupation and colonisation of their land.
Adnan Dagher, a veteran unionist, reminded the congress of the long history of the Palestinian labour movement. He expressed confidence that the New Unions may recover the leading role of the workers struggle and trade unionism within the national movement and may revive the class struggle within Palestine.
Muhammad Bleidi, the secretary general of the New Unions, in his closing remarks thanked everybody that has contributed to the establishment of the New Unions, all those that over the years have dedicated their time and struggle and energies in the long process. Muhammad Bleidi outlined the past and current work of the union to defend workers rights within the factories, at the Israeli workers gates and in the court systems. He reminded everybody of the mission of the union to defend and achieve labour and national rights for the Palestinian working class and its principles of unity, class consciousness and democracy and autonomy.
At the end of the congress, the Palestine New Federation of Trade Unions elected their new Council comprised of 31 members and the new executive committee comprised of 17 members (four women). Muhammad Bleidi has been reconfirmed in the vote for the secretary general of the union.