Over 1,000 workers and trade unionists under the banner “Workers for a Free Palestine” have blockaded four arms factories in England and Scotland.
Over 600 trade unionists have shut down an arms factory in Bournemouth, and hundreds of others have shut down arms factories in Brighton, Lancashire and Glasgow, which produce components for the F-35 stealth aircraft, the world’s most advanced fighter jet, which Israel is currently using to bombard Gaza.
These health workers, teachers, hospitality workers, academics, artists and others, who are members of a wide range of trade unions, including Unite, UNISON, GMB, the NEU, the BMA, UCU, BECTU and BFAWU, are demanding that the UK Government stops arming Israel and supports a permanent ceasefire. Mesh, a doctor speaking on behalf of Health Workers for a Free Palestine, which is taking part in the blockades, said:
“As healthcare workers, we are tired of mourning the deaths of our colleagues – fellow nurses, doctors, dentists, medical students and other health workers – along with all of the Palestinians massacred by the Israeli regime. We stand here ashamed that the weapons used in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine are partly made on our own doorstep.
“Our government could only bring itself to advocate for a temporary pause in these atrocities. Israel has now resumed its violence: turning hospitals into graveyards, using equipment manufactured in this very factory. As health workers, we have a moral responsibility to act, and we will not rest until the occupation ends. We cannot simply worry about the disease when the root cause is clear. Just as smoking causes lung cancer, so the Israeli occupation of Palestine causes untold death and destruction in the region.”
Workers for a Free Palestine is escalating its tactics by targeting four factories at once in different parts of Britain, involving an unprecedented number of people taking part in the disruption of Israeli arms manufacturing in Britain. These blockades are part of a coordinated international action today to disrupt the flow of arms to Israel, with workers in France, Denmark and the Netherlands also shutting down factories today which supply arms to Israeli forces.
Both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer continue to refuse calls to back a permanent ceasefire after intense bombardment has resumed this week (with the United Nations stating that people in Gaza have “nowhere safe to go”) despite polling showing the majority of the British public support a ceasefire.
Responding to the blockades, Workers in Palestine, a coalition of Palestinian trade unions which is calling for industrial action and civil disobedience to halt the arms trade with Israel, issued the following statement:
“We salute all those in the trade union movement taking a stand to disrupt the flow of arms to Israel. Shutting down four factories across the UK today, along with several simultaneous blockades in Europe, are critical acts of solidarity – refusing to conduct business as usual in the face of Israel’s relentless bombardment of Gaza and ongoing genocide. As the British government refuses to call for a ceasefire and directly supports Israel’s military attack, a rapidly growing movement of workers are clearly saying, “not in our name”.