British Trades Union Congress Calls for Troops Out of Iraq!

The following report was posted on the Internet on September 11, 2003.

The delegates to the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) on September 10 unanimously backed a motion calling for the British government to “work through the UN for the withdrawal without delay of coalition troops and for control of Iraq to be given to the Iraqi people.”

Composite motion 18, Middle East peace, also “condemns the British and U.S. governments’ unilateral decision to wage war on Iraq” and calls for “justice for the Palestinian people.”

Moving the composite, TGWU General Secretary Tony Woodley said: “I was proud to stand in front of one million people in Hyde Park and say that the war was wrong. It is wrong, it is illegal, it must not be allowed to happen again.”

Woodley said he was outraged by television pictures of a child being blown up by a cluster bomb in Iraq.

He continued: “With the deaths of innocent Iraqis and British soldiers we shouldn’t be there, it’s as simple as that.

“We want justice in the Middle East for Palestinians and I don’t mean assassinations of their leaders and a separation wall.

“Make sure Israeli troops are taken out of the West Bank and Gaza and there are negotiations with the true leader of the Palestinians, Yassir Arafat.”

Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, seconding the motion, said: “The best way to support our boys and girls is to get them out of Iraq now, as quickly as possible.

“Instead of pouring billions into a war against the people of Iraq, we should be using the cash to fund our public services properly, pay decent pensions, and scrap tuition fees.

“Blair lied to us about the weapons of mass destruction. The only weapons of mass destruction anyone’s likely to find are ones put there by Bush and Blair.

“The war has made the world more dangerous, it’s time for an end to it.”

Andy Bain, TSSA, congratulated the Stop the War Coalition, and said: “A firmer TUC position a year ago might just have made a difference.”

Steve Kemp, NUM, said: “Our union expresses its profound disgust at the eight-meter-tall Apartheid Wall being built in Palestine.

“It cuts deep into the illegally-occupied territory; it will make a complete encirclement of Palestine, turning it into cantons. This makes a Palestinian state unviable.”

He called for meaningful dialogue by both sides.

Keith Sonnet, UNISON, in his speech, said: “Composite 18 states clearly, we condemn the decision of the British government to wage war on Iraq.

“It was a major mistake that history will not forgive. We must also condemn the deceit, manipulation, the downright lies to justify war.”

He added: “The war was not about weapons of mass destruction or the threat Saddam Hussein posed, but instead it was all about the need for oil and the self-interests of American capitalism.”

Fawzi Ibrahim, of NATFHE, said in his contribution: “Blair’s lies are the worst of lies, they cost the lives of British soldiers and thousands of Iraqis.

“The government is imploding in front of our eyes because of the war. Anyone who knows Iraq knows it is not a nation that submits to occupation.

“Those that say so have the cheek to insult resistance fighters who attack the occupying power and call them terrorists.”

Glenroy Watson, RMT, challenged the General Council report on the work of the TUC over the last year, questioning why it said that once the Iraq war was launched in March, the TUC had to support British troops.

He asked the TUC leaders: “Are we expected still to agree to the illegal purposes that the government has embarked upon?”