Indian trade unions refuse to ‘export’ workers to Israel

The move came after Israel's construction industry has requested government permission to hire one lakh Indian workers to replace Palestinians.

Major trade unions in India have urged the government not to ‘export’ construction workers to Israel to replace Palestinians.

A joint statement by several trade unions of India was issued after Israel’s construction industry requested the Union government’s permission to hire one lakh Indian workers to replace Palestinians whose work permits have been revoked due to Israel’s offensive on Gaza.

The signed statement was released on Thursday, November 9, on behalf of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and even RSS-affiliated Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) among others.

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In May this year, during the visit of the Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen to New Delhi, both countries signed an agreement to send 42,000 Indian workers to Israel, out of which 34,000 were to be brought into the construction industry, to replace the Palestinian workers.

“The Indian Government is playing a despicable role in supporting the Israeli plans to throw out Palestinian workers. Retaliation of Hamas attack is only an excuse,” the statement by the trade unions read.

The statement noted Israel’s plan to replace around 1.3 lakh Palestinian workers with Indian workers.

“Nothing could be more immoral and disastrous for India than the said ‘export’ of workers to Israel….That India is even considering ‘exporting’ workers shows the manner in which it has dehumanized and commodified Indian workers. Such a step will amount to complicity on India’s part with Israel’s ongoing genocidal war against Palestinians and will naturally have adverse implications for Indian workers in the entire region.”

“India’s trade union movement must rise in solidarity with Palestinian workers and reject this disastrous idea. Let’s resolve that we will not work to replace Palestinian workers in Israel! India and Indian workers should boycott Israeli products! Indian workers, as their counterparts in some Western countries, should refuse to handle the Israelian cargo!” the statement urged.

The trade unions demanded an immediate halt to Israeli aggression against Palestine, end its occupation, and uphold the Palestinian right to a sovereign homeland as the only possible path to peace.

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