BLOCKING THE BOAT – OAKLAND DOCKWORKERS IN ACTION AGAINST ISRAELI APARTHEID

block the boat oct 2014

One of the most inspiring BDS actions in response to Israel’s massacres in Gaza over the summer took place in Oakland, California, where Palestine solidarity activists have built constructive links with port workers.

Here we reproduce a report by Greg Dropkin, a leading member of the Boycott Israel Network and  Liverpool Friends of Palestine.

 

OAKLAND, USA

On Sept 27 and 28, dockworkers in Oakland California refused yet again to unload cargo from the Israeli shipping line ZIM which operates world-wide.

Block the Boat march in Oakland. (Photo: Bob Ristelhueber)

Block the Boat march in Oakland. (Photo: Bob Ristelhueber)

On 16 August, a mass march of 5000 by the Arab Resource and Organising Center and 75 other organisations in the San Francisco Bay Area reached Pier 57 and picketed for 3 days. The Zim Piraeus left port, only to return suddenly.

However, a much smaller picket continued and the ship eventually sailed to Russia without discharging most of its Oakland cargo. The Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar found customers were furious with ZIM.

On Sept 27, the Stop ZIM Action Committee leafletted the union ILWU Local 10 and an announcement at the dispatch hall requested longshoremen not to take jobs on the Zim Shanghai. Only one worker signed up for work, and no-one crossed the picket line that night.

On Sept 28 the Zim ship sailed without discharging any containers. It was eventually worked in Long Beach, but the delays and additional transport will cost ZIM dearly.

Oakland dockers took similar action in June 2010 in response to a mass community picket after Israel attacked the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship on the aid flotilla seeking to break the blockade of Gaza after the invasion of 2008-9.

The recent ceasefire has not demobilised the movement, and workers are capable of effective action if solidarity activists engage them directly over a period of time.

This resolution, adopted by a public meeting in support of the Oakland actions in Liverpool on October 7, could serve as a model for campaigners wishing to follow the US example:

Solidarity with Oakland Actions

This solidarity meeting convened by Liverpool Friends of Palestine congratulates the Oakland longshore workers of ILWU Local 10, and all those who organised the successful pickets triggering action against the Israeli shipping line ZIM in August and September, responding to Israel’s massacres in Gaza.

From the mass picket called by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center on 16 August, to the picket line mounted by the Stop ZIM Action Committee and Transport Workers Solidarity Committee on 27 September, and with all supporting organisations for both actions, the movement has engaged directly with workers in the port and their response is inspiring.

We are proud that Liverpool dockworkers past and present have voiced their support for these actions. We hope that other transport workers will take heart from the Oakland actions and seek to impose their own boycotts of trade with apartheid Israel. We hope that solidarity activists will continue to approach workers with a view to implementing the appeal from Palestinian unions issued on 30 July. They wrote:

“We ask you to consider the following actions:

  • Stop handling goods imported from or exported to Israel,
  • Divest your trade union pension — and other — funds from Israel Bonds as well as from corporations and banks that are complicit in Israel’s occupation and human rights violations
  • Dissociate from Israeli trade unions which are complicit in the occupation
  • Support our call for a military embargo on Israel
  • Share information with your members about the siege and destruction of Gaza and ask your members to boycott Israeli products and to share their knowledge with family, co-workers, and friends.”

For frequent updates on the ZIM saga, see http://www.labournet.net/

Palestine solidarity mural in Oakland USA

Palestine solidarity mural in Oakland USA

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