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India’s Water Transport Workers' Union Says Won’t Help Ships Carrying Arms Bound for Israel

The union of 3,500 workers said, “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.”

New Delhi: The Water Transport Workers Federation of India, representing 3,500 workers at 11 major Indian ports, has declared that it will refuse to load or unload weapons to Israel on any ships it may be asked to do so, carrying armaments and bound for Israel.

The press release issued by them, dated February 14, says they have “decided to refuse to load or unload weaponized cargoes from Israel or any other country which could handle military equipments and its allied cargo for war in Palestine.”

The union says that as “Port workers, part of labour unions would always stand against the war and killing innocent people like women and children. The recent attack of Israel on Gaza plunging 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.”

Seeing any role in enabling ship to carry armaments which may aggravate the war in Gaza and particularly in Rafah, they have said “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 trade union has also called “for an immediate ceasefire”.

The press release further says, “as responsible trade unions, we declare our solidarity with those who campaign for peace. We call upon the workers of the world and peace-loving people to stand with the demand of free Palestine.”

Speaking to The Wire from Chennai, T. Narendra Rao, general secretary of the Water Transport Federation of India, said, “We are affiliated to the World Federation of Trade Unions, a global body. At a recent meeting of world trade unions, held at Athens after the war of Gaza started, we saw the rousing reception the trade union representative from Palestine got there, as they explained exactly what was going on. We decided them that we would do our bit and not handle any weapon-laden cargo, which will go onto assist Israel to kill more women and children as we are seeing and reading every day in the news.”

Rao said they had not encountered any reports of any such ship bound for Israel so far, but were issuing the statement “to express solidarity with Palestine” and make clear that they would not be a part of any future enterprise to support Israel’s war on the Palestinian people. Their workers “would not help load or unload anything that advances the cause of war”.

Meanwhile, a Hyderabad-based joint venture in which the Adani Group has a controlling stake has manufactured and dispatched over 20 military drones to the Israeli military. Hermes drones – similar to what Adani-Elbit Advanced Systems India Ltd has just delivered – are being extensively used in the Israeli Defence Forces’ military campaign in Gaza, which have resulted in the death of over 28,000 people, including more than 10,000 children.

The sale more of than 20 Hermes 900 medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAVs to Israel – first reported on February 2 by Neelam Mathews for the well-regarded defence-related website Shephard Media has not yet been publicly acknowledged by either Tel Aviv or New Delhi but sources at Adani, communicating off the record as they are not authorised to speak to the media, had confirmed to The Wire in early February that the export had indeed taken place.

Th World Federation of Trade Unions, established in 1945, on February 13 issued a call for solidarity with the people of Palestine, saying that their demand was for “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.” They further said, “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.”


The Wire, 2024


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