African workers say "no" to Israeli apartheid
Media Conference, COSATU
House, 3 February 2009, 11am
In a historic development for South Africa, South African dock
workers have announced their determination not to offload a ship
from Israel that is scheduled to dock in Durban on Sunday, 8
February 2009. This follows the decision by COSATU to strengthen
the campaign in South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions
against Apartheid Israel.
The pledge by SATAWU members in Durban reflects the commitment by
South African workers to refuse to support oppression and
exploitation across the globe. Last year, Durban dock workers had
refused to offload a shipment of arms that had arrived from China
and was destined for Zimbabwe to prop up the Mugabe regime and to
intensify the repression against the Zimbabwean people. Now, says
SATAWU's General Secretary Randall Howard, the union’s members are
committing themselves to not handling Israeli goods.
SATAWU's action on Sunday will be part of a proud history of worker
resistance against apartheid. In 1963, just four years after the
Anti-Apartheid Movement was formed, Danish dock workers refused to
offload a ship with South African goods. When the ship docked in
Sweden, Swedish workers followed suit. Dock workers in Liverpool
and, later, in the San Francisco Bay Area also refused to offload
South African goods. South Africans, and the South African working
class in particular, will remain forever grateful to those workers
who determinedly opposed apartheid and decided that they would
support the anti-apartheid struggle with their actions.
Last week, Western Australian members of the Maritime Union of
Australia resolved to support the campaign for boycotts, divestment
and sanctions against Israel, and have called for a boycott of all
Israeli vessels and all vessels bearing goods arriving from or
going to Israel.
This is the legacy and the tradition that South African dock
workers have inherited, and it is a legacy they are determined to
honour, by ensuring that South African ports of entry will not be
used as transit points for goods bound for or emanating from
certain dictatorial and oppressive states such as Zimbabwe,
Swaziland and Israel.
COSATU, the Palestine Solidarity Committee, the Young Communist
League and a range of other organisations salute the principled
position taken by these workers. We also take this opportunity to
salute the millions of workers all over the world who have openly
condemned and taken decisive steps to isolate apartheid Israel, a
step that should send shockwaves to its arrogant patrons in the
United States who foot the bill for Israel’s killing machine. We
call on other workers and unions to follow suit and to do all that
is necessary to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from
Israel until Palestine is free.
message was sent to the South African Transport and Allied Workers
The Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid-Southern California
(www.ceia-sc.org) wishes to voice its enthusiastic support of the
members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union
(SATAWU) in Durban for taking the lead in the struggle to defeat
apartheid in the State of Israel by being the first group of
workers to refuse to offload a ship coming from Israel and carrying
These brave workers lived under, and struggled against, apartheid
in South Africa. As such, they know firsthand the brutalities and
dehumanization of the apartheid system. They also know how
important international solidarity was in the struggle to defeat
apartheid in South Africa.
By taking this action the workers of SATAWU are boldly standing
against racism and oppression, and telling the world that apartheid
will no longer be tolerated as an acceptable way to govern. South
Africa is leading the global struggle against Israeli apartheid,
telling Israel that unless it ends the ruthless apartheid system it
imposes on the Palestinian people, within 1948 Israel as well as
the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, it will be treated as
a pariah state, and will be boycotted by the rest of the
To achieve justice for all in Palestine CEIA-SC calls for:
-Immediate and unconditional end of the occupation of the West
Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, dismantling of all
settlements, and return of land and water resources.
-Immediate dismantling of the Apartheid Wall and full compensation
for the suffering of the Palestinian people.
-Immediate implementation of Palestinian Right-of-Return to
original homes and properties.
-Return of stolen land and restitution for 60 years of
-Establishment of a single, secular, pluralistic and democratic
state with laws based on citizenship, not ethnicity or religion, in
the whole region of historic Palestine, with full political and
civil rights for all.
The Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid-Southern