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Welcome to Palestine 2012

Join us for the Great Scottish 'Send off' at Waverley Station

Visit PalestineOn Saturday 14th April a group of activists from Scotland - including at least one UNISON Edinburgh member - will leave from Edinburgh by train to join their colleagues in England.

Together they will board flights on Sunday 15th as part of the International 'Fly-in' to Israel which will attempt to break the 'Silent Blockade' of the occupied territories of the Palestinian West Bank.

Come and lend us your support. Saturday 14th April at 1pm in Waverley Station


Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of a number of prominent figures to have endorsed the latest challenge to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians which highlights what Tutu considers, “Israel's policy of isolating the West Bank”.

Last year’s mass arrest at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport raised awareness of the restrictions imposed by Israel on the West Bank. Over 100 were held in Israeli Jails for up to a week before being deported.

“We ask to be allowed to pass through Tel Aviv airport without hindrance and to proceed to the West Bank to take part in a children’s education project there."

Israeli crimes continue unabated:

Regular attacks on Palestinians, settlement expansion, destruction and kidnappings by military squads enforcing the illegal occupation. Palestinians resist. The British Government, however, joins with Israel to isolate the Palestinians. When our governments endorse illegal Israeli occupation, its citizens need to take action.

The Welcome to Palestine 2012 Initiative asserts our right to travel to Palestine peacefully and openly to meet with representatives of Palestinian civil society organisations.


"We, the undersigned, endorse the call from the Welcome to Palestine 2012 initiative for supporters of Palestinian human and national rights around the world to openly visit Palestine during Easter 2012. There is no way into Palestine other than through Israeli control points. Israel has turned Palestine into a giant prison, but prisoners have a right to receive visitors. Welcome to Palestine 2012 will again challenge Israel's policy of isolating the West Bank while the settler paramilitaries and army commit brutal crimes against a virtually defenceless Palestinian civilian population. We call on governments to support the right of Palestinians to receive visitors and the right of their own citizens to visit Palestine openly. The participants in Welcome to Palestine 2012 ask to be allowed to pass through Tel Aviv airport without hindrance and to proceed to the West Bank to take part in a project there for children to benefit from the right to education."

SIGNED: Sam Bahour, Tony Benn, Noam Chomsky, Jonathan Cook, Ronnie Kasrils, Nurit Peled, John Pilger, Nawal Al Sadaawi, Vauro Senesi, Desmond Tutu





Branch International Officer

The Branch International Officer post exists to foster and maintain links with trade unionists around the world, most particularly recently in Palestine, Cuba, Nicaragua and South Africa, although there have been formal links in the past with Sweden and Canada.

The post is designed to exchange information and ideas, to learn from each other and to provide assistance where possible. It is also there to advise the branch on international policy issues.



Support for New York colleagues and continued calls for peace

In the year of the attack on the World Trade Centre and then the war in Afghanistan, all members must have been more conscious than usual of international issues. (see special report)

We live in a world in which events far away can rapidly have a direct impact on our lives. The branch responded instantly to the events of 11 September by giving support to union branches in New York and at the same time warning that there should not be a response based on revenge - this would lower the USA and allies to the same moral level as the attackers and make the world more dangerous in the long run.

Sadly such voices were not heeded and the Branch Committee expressed its deep concern about the bombing of Afghanistan and gave organisational and financial support to the conference 'Not in Our Name' on December 8.

A number of other international issues have received our attention. We supported local actions on Third World debt. We supported and attended a conference on Palestine which drew the links between the Palestinians struggle against Israeli occupation of their land and the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

I have sought to draw attention to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), a proposed international treaty which could oblige governments to pursue privatisation of certain public services. We have supported activities of the World Development Movement on this and are seeking to raise it with our MP's.

There had been no-one in this post in the previous year so these activities have been build up from a standing start, with assistance from one or two other branch members. One of the things which I would like to do is to build up a larger network of members in the branch who are active on issues of international solidarity or aid. There is a lot we could do so if interested please contact me (if are-elected) via the Branch Office.

International Relations Officer



Cuban trade unionists visit Edinburgh

Edinburgh UNISON welcomed two Cuban trade unionists on a visit to the city in the person of Armando Plaza Olazabal and William Rodriguez Arias from the Cuban TUC's Holguin Province.

Plaza and William were welcomed to Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh during their stay.

They told of the terrible devastation caused by the recent hurricane and the problems caused by the U.S boycott. William, a computer enthusiast, went home with surplus equipment from the Edinburgh branch.

As part of their visit, the branch arranged a lunch, a visit to the People's Story museum and a lively and informative tour of the City Chambers by UNISON member - and Edinburgh history expert - John Wilson.

Then there was time for a couple of hours exchange of information about trade unionism here and in Cuba.


Message of thanks from Cuban trade union

Edinburgh UNISON's Lyn Williams has brought a thankyou message from CTC (SNTECD) colleagues in Cuba's Holguin province, following her recent "school twinning" visit.

The branch had sent a commemorative paperweight and Drummond High School had sent a plaque to commemorate their twinning arrangement. Much needed supplies were also provided.

The Cuban union sent a miniature tea set as a return gift to the UNISON branch and it will be greatly treasured. The message from our Cuban colleagues reads:

"Esteemed workers of UNISON. Many thanks for your gift which is so very kind and beautiful.

We send you our most sincere greetings from the CTC Holguin Cuba."





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See also...

South African Women

The Branch greets
South African women
on a visit to Edinburgh

Burma: End Trade and Investment

UNISON UK Global Action Pages

UNISON Scotland International

September 11: Branch Reports and Statement