MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

Israel hiring of Indian workers slammed by trade unionists

'Indian construction workers are being imported to Israel at the expense of the Palestinian working class. The (Narendra) Modi regime has pitted Indian workers against Palestinian workers'

Pheroze L. Vincent New Delhi Published 08.03.24, 05:47 AM
(Left to right) Shiv Kumar of the Manesar General Mazdoor Sangh, People's Union for Civil Liberties president Kavita Srivastava, New Trade Union Initiative general secretary Gautam Mody, Gharelu Kamgar Union convener Maya John, and CITU working committee member Arka Rajpandit at the Working People Against Apartheid and Genocide meeting at the Press Club of India, New Delhi on March 7.

(Left to right) Shiv Kumar of the Manesar General Mazdoor Sangh, People's Union for Civil Liberties president Kavita Srivastava, New Trade Union Initiative general secretary Gautam Mody, Gharelu Kamgar Union convener Maya John, and CITU working committee member Arka Rajpandit at the Working People Against Apartheid and Genocide meeting at the Press Club of India, New Delhi on March 7. Picture by Pheroze L. Vincent

Trade unionists from India, Palestine and South Africa have accused the governments in Tel Aviv and New Delhi of using workers from low-wage countries like India as tools in the economic deprivation of Palestinians amid the ongoing conflict there.

They spoke at a solidarity meeting for Palestine here on Thursday, two days after an Indian plantation worker was killed in shelling on Israel’s border with Lebanon.

ADVERTISEMENT

Arka Rajpandit, working committee member of CPM labour arm Citu, said Indians were being recruited through PSUs to displace the lakhs of Palestinian workers who have been evicted from the Israeli labour market since the conflict began.

“Indian construction workers are being imported to Israel at the expense of the Palestinian working class. The (Narendra) Modi regime has pitted Indian workers against Palestinian workers,” he said.

Rajpandit underlined that this comes at a time when “essential items cost 300 to 2,000 per cent more now in the Gaza Strip”.

“The Modi regime has also used this war to other the Muslim community by prohibiting any prayers of solidarity in mosques,” he added.

Jamal Juma, anti-apartheid activist and executive committee member of the Palestine New Federation of Trade Unions, described Israel’s hiring from Asia as “blood money”.

In a video message, he said: “This is at the expense of Palestinian children’s lives, the source of life that these workers depend on. This is because of the siege. We have no alternative because we are occupied. They control our resources.”

Shiv Kumar of the Manesar General Mazdoor Sangh, Haryana, asked: “Is there any guarantee of the safety of workers (from) India? They are going to Israel because of unemployment and poverty.”

“We are witness to a form of diplomacy which seeks to maintain bilateral ties with Israel and Palestine separately,” said trade unionist and elected member of Delhi University’s academic council, Maya John.

“Such diplomacy is anchored on active espousal of Israel’s monopoly over violence on the basis of the ‘right to defend itself’, and the corresponding delegitimisation of the use of any force or assertion of sovereignty by Palestinians.

“Against this skewed logic informing bilateral diplomacy with Israel and Palestine, the endeavour of different countries to extend medical and food aid to Palestinians amounts to a hollow, meaningless exercise as for them it does not matter that Gaza remains in the thick of war as a consequence of Israel’s escalated military onslaught and colonisation.”

Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, said in a recorded message to Indian unions that they “must stand firm and reject — with (the) contempt (that) it deserves… India trying to threaten them not to stand in solidarity with the working class and the people of Palestine who are the victim of collective punishment, genocide, where women and children are massively killed every day.”

Indians for Palestine, the organisers of Thursday’s meeting, said in a statement: “India must join other countries of the global south in calling for an economic boycott of Israel and in the meantime put a complete stop to Indian workers being sent to Israel. We will continue to join our energies with all others, in our continent, and across the world who are standing up against the genocide with the Palestinian peoples.”

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT