Water Transport Workers’ Union refuse to load or unload weapons meant for Israeli

  • February 18, 2024

In solidarity with a call by Palestinian trade unions, the Water Transport Workers Federation of India representing 3,500 workers at 11 major ports have refused to load or unload weapons meant for use by the Israeli military in Palestine.


 Groundxero| 18th February, 2024


The Water Transport Workers Federation of India representing 3,500 workers at 11 major ports have refused to load or unload weapons meant for use by the Israeli military in its genocidal war in Gaza. In a press statement issued on 14 February, and signed by T Narendra Rao, the federation’s general secretary, the union said “[As] port workers, part of labour unions, would always stand against the war and killing innocent people like women and children.”


“Our Union members have collectively decided to refuse handling all types of weaponised cargoes. Loading and unloading these weapons helps provide organizations with the ability to kill innocent people.”


The statement added “The recent attack of Israel on Gaza plunged thousands of Palestinians into immense suffering and loss. Women and children have been blown to pieces in the war. Parents were unable to recognise their children killed in bombings which were exploding everywhere.”


The statement by the port workers’ federation called on its members to stop handling ships which carry military equipment to Israel.

Speaking to The Wire from Chennai, T. Narendra Rao, general secretary of the Water Transport Federation of India, said they were issuing the statement “to express solidarity with Palestine” and make clear that their workers “would not help load or unload anything that advances the cause of war”. Since 7 October in 2013, when Israel launched its military assault in Gaza following the Hamas attack, it has resulted in the death of over 28,000 people, including more than 10,000 children.


The Water Transport Workers Federation of India is an affiliate of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), which on February 13 issued a call for solidarity with the people of Palestine. The WFTU, referring to the forthcoming Israeli attacks of Rafah, where over a million and a half displaced Palestinians in Rafah now face the looming threat of an Israeli ground invasion with nowhere safe to go, said in a statement:


“What we demand is that the United Nations and the international community will take urgent decisions to prevent this new Nakba in the Palestinian land. At the same time, we condemn the hypocrisy of the USA and their allies, who pretend to be the protectors of the international law and order, but they silently or openly support this genocide.


The class-oriented trade union movement, once again expresses its unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people, and reaffirms the readiness to intensify its actions in every possible means, until the end of the occupation and the liberation of the Palestinian land.”


India-Israel military relations have deepened in recent years. Israel exports about $7bn in arms to India a year. A defence-related website Shephard Media reported that Adani-Elbit Advanced Systems India Ltd, a private joint drone manufacturing facility in Hyderabad in which the Adani Group has a controlling stake, sold more than 20 Hermes 900 medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles to Israel. Hermes drones are being extensively used in the Israeli Defence Forces’ military campaign in Gaza.


Earlier, India’s Central Trade Unions (CTUs) have strongly condemned the reported talks between New Delhi and Israeli to “export” of up to 100,000 Indian workers to replace Palestinian workers in Israel.


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