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How to help Palestine's trade unionists

Issue date
TUC Aid appeal 2008

Solidarity with trade unionists abroad

Palestine - PGFTU

In his solidarity message to the 2007 TUC Congress, Shaher Sae'd, PGFTU General Secretary, advised that 70% of the Palestinian people are living under the poverty line and 360,000 out of the 985,000 workforce are unemployed. He predicted that this was set to get worse once the illegal wall is completed in 2008. Over 370 military checkpoints prevent workers from having freedom of movement, and turn 40 minute journeys into 4-hour ones. The situation in Gaza is worse even than in the West Bank, and complicated by Hamas' hostility to free trade unionism.

In response to this severe humanitarian challenge, the PGFTU, consisting of twelve unions, has provided financial assistance to 265,000 workers and has provided 400,000 food baskets to Palestinian families; it has also made available free medical insurance.

However with union members on low salaries and employed irregularly or not at all, the PGFTU's ability to move beyond a humanitarian response to assist its members, and build its organisational capacity and develop the skills of its officials, is severely limited. The PGFTU has formulated detailed project proposals:

  • to run training courses for officers and lay members on a range of vital subjects, including: union working methods, trade unionist rights and child labour;
  • to build the capacity of its Women's Department in order to respond to the challenges facing women trade unionists, including salary and employment rights equality;
  • to develop the PGFTU's media and information services; and
  • to build the capacity of its Youth Department, so it can improve the organising skills of young cadres and enhance their ability to contribute to the future of Palestinian trade unionism.

However it needs money to make these well thought through proposals a reality. The UK trade union movement has a long history of supporting its Palestinian colleagues, and the PGFTU is hoping that in 2008, TUC affiliates will strengthen this practical solidarity.

Details of how you can help are at

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