At their annual national convention, delegates of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)representing 50,000 workers across Canada, voted overwhelmigly in favor of resolution 338/339. The resolution commits the union to support the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights including the right of return. The resolution also joins the global campaign of ‘boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS)against Israeli Apartheid.’
In a statement issued on Friday, the BDS National Committee (BNC) in Palestine, which represents over 200 Palestinian civil society organizations, saluted what it called a ‘historic resolution.’ The BNC statement further stated that the resolution ‘exemplifies the cause of workers’ solidarity against oppression and racism, particularly at a time when Israel is intensifying, with impunity, its acts of genocide against close to 1.5 million Palestinians in occupied Gaza.’
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)’s resolution is the first boycott resolution passed by a labor union at the national level in North America. It follows a similar resolution that was passed in May 2006 by the Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
The workers comprising the CUPW have a history of international solidarity. The union passed a similar resolution during the boycott campaign against the South African Apartheid regime. During that period, Canadian postal workers, members of the union, refused to handle mail to and from South Africa as part of the boycott.
While stemming from a long history of non-violent civil action, the Palestinian BDS campaign was officially launched in July 2005, when over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations signed an appeal to the people of the world calling for a BDS campaign against Israel. The call states that these non-violent measures to isolate Israel ‘should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by: 1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; 2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.’
Since the call was issued in 2005, several churches, labor unions, and civil society organizations have responded to the call by taking action to implement BDS.