PSI meets with Palestinian Affiliates in Ramallah

PSI General Secretary Daniel Bertossa and other global union leaders visited Palestine this week to speak with affiliated unions, frontline workers and political actors from across the region.

This Solidarity mission marks the first time such a large and high-level group of union leaders have convened in Palestine and underlines the global labour movement’s support for an urgent ceasefire in Gaza and a free sovereign Palestinian state. The visit comes amid mounting international condemnation over the ongoing killing of civilians in Gaza and in the West Bank.

The delegation released a co-authored statement signed by the Council of Global Unions carrying an important message of solidarity to the workers of the region. 

PSI Palestinian affiliates taking part in the visit underlined the extreme economic hardship experienced in Gaza and the West Bank, where many government workers are receiving half or no salary due to Israel withholding funds from the Palestine Authority. 

Another topic was the issue of work permits. The unions highlighted the problem of Israel controlling access to these permits and the growing Israeli push for the use of labour brokers who take up to 50% of wages to provide a work permit. This has led to increasing unemployment across the region. 

Discussions also touched on the unique challenges facing women workers, who regularly face discrimination, harassment, and barriers to access work. Many unions are implementing a 30% women’s quota among leadership positions. 

PSI has recently lost contact with our comrades from General Trade Union of Health Workers in Gaza and the Public Services Union who are sheltering in Rafah as bombardments continue. In a recent short film produced by PSI, they shared their struggle to maintain health provision in Gaza under increasingly difficult circumstances. At least 492 medical personnel have died in the war so far and 33 hospitals and 126 ambulances have been destroyed. PSI has launched a Gaza Solidarity Fund which unions can contribute to, with the goal of helping rebuild the region’s independent union movement once the conflict subsides. 

Affiliates from across the region emphasized the need for: 

  • Permanent ceasefire and end to the ongoing aggression against the Gaza Strip 

  • Involvement of the PSI National Coordination Committee in Gaza in any action or relief plan, as the sectors destroyed in the Gaza war are mostly public service sectors. 

  • Increased pressure on developed countries that suspended their support for the UNRWA to retract their decision. 

  • Providing medical and humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip and urgent protection for medical teams  

The delegation also met with ministers from the Palestinian Authority Government including the president of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas. 

PSI has long stood with Palestine's frontline workers and independent union movement. At our 31st World Congress, a resolution noted the punishment of the entire population of Gaza for the deplorable actions of Hamas is not justifiable and called for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the unlawful blockade. We have organised a number of projects in the region to build the power of unions, increase health sector resilience and boost the involvement of women and youth leaders. 

Khawla Ilian (Public Services Union, Municipality sector) Daniel Bertossa (PSI General Secretary) Jowairiah Safadi (President of Health Services Union), Christina McAnea(Unison General Secretary) Abdelhakim Shibani (Public Services Union) Fawzi Shaaban (Public Services Union), and Abdelhadi Abu Taha (Health Services Union)

Global Unions Palestine Delegation Statement

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Statement by leaders of eight Global Union Federations (GUFs) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) who travelled to Ramallah to convey their solidarity to unions in the West Bank and Gaza.

Ramallah, 29 May, 2024


This week leaders of eight Global Union Federations (GUFs) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) travelled to Ramallah to convey their solidarity to unions in the West Bank and Gaza. These organisations represent almost every sector of the global economy and have members in more than 150 countries representing over 200 million workers. Working with Palestinian affiliates and others, the GUFs, all members of the Council of Global Unions (CGU), pledged to intensify efforts to help local trade unions navigate these difficult times for workers and fulfil their role as key drivers of change in Palestine.

The delegation recalled the ITUC and other global unions’ long-standing policy for a two-state solution

The delegation, which included the General Secretaries of the ITUC and the GUFs as well as a number of top union leaders from across the world, met with representatives of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) as whell as union leaders representing workers in the West Bank and Gaza.

The delegation had the privilege to meet President Abbas. They also met Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Samah Abou Oun, and several government ministers during the mission on 28-30 May 2024. Several global unions are already deeply engaged with their Palestinian colleagues, all committed to supporting and sustaining the struggle of Palestinian workers.

The delegation made clear that “we express our solidarity with Palestinian trade unions and workers in these difficult times. We are deeply concerned by the grave humanitarian crisis faced by the people of Gaza, and we stand with Palestinians, Israelis and people the world over calling for peace, equality and justice.” 

Urgent priorities must include an immediate and permanent ceasefire with full respect for international humanitarian law, immediate access to humanitarian assistance, the release of all hostages and others held without due judicial process and enabling the safe return of all workers trapped by the conflict. 

The delegation recalled the ITUC and other global unions’ long-standing policy for a two-state solution, and the call for a just and durable peace through the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 to facilitate a real economic future for an independent Palestine. This involves ending the occupation of the West Bank, dismantling all illegal settlements, and recognising the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. 

The delegation urged governments to resume and increase funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). “UNRWA's role is vital in providing essential services and supporting Palestinians at a time when they are most in need.

“We came here to reinforce the depth of our commitment to Palestinian workers and their unions – we are all part of the same family. Our goal is a democratic and sovereign Palestine, living in just and lasting peace and security, alongside a secure Israel. We know that trade unions are an essential element of any democracy, and that strong and democratic independent unions will be a key building block towards that end in Palestine.”

The delegation reported hearing moving testimony from Palestinians who have paid a terrible price during the current war.

On top of the distressing reality of destruction and loss of life in Gaza, we have heard about settler violence, restrictions on human rights such as freedom of movement and economic hardship in the West Bank. What shines through nevertheless, is the commitment to trade unionism and its potential to help deliver a just settlement in the broader chaos of this conflict.

“Our responsibility as global trade unionists is to nurture that sentiment and we call upon the global labour movement to deliver on its principles of peace, humanity, democracy, and solidarity. This includes continuing to invest in a constructive dialogue with trade unions in both Palestine and Israel which recognises their critical role in their respective societies. 

Global unions will neither forget nor forsake our sisters and brothers in Palestine. We will redouble efforts to support your unions and support you. Trade unions have remained a constant – democratically, rooted in their communities, and well equipped to provide concrete support during the reconstruction, which should embed the principles of decent work and quality public services.” 

Many of the global unions have already provided significant aid to workers through unions in Gaza and the West Bank. Education International has provided financial assistance for more than 1,000 teachers in Palestine, and shelter for more than 5,000 children in Rafah. The International Federation of Journalists provides direct support for reporters in Gaza and operates a solidarity centre with workspace and equipment in Khan Younis. The International Transport Workers’ Federation and Public Services International have both launched solidarity funds to provide immediate relief and longer-term support for Palestinian transport and public service workers and their families. Building and Wood Workers' International has provided humanitarian support and shelter for construction workers and their families. 

The delegation concluded: “Trade unions are part of the global peace movement. We stand for peace alongside such important values as democracy and humanity. That’s why we are here.” 


Notes for editors 

The Council of Global Unions brings together the leaders of trade union ‘internationals’, each of which represent many national unions – usually in a specific field of employment. Its current membership includes: Building and Woodworkers International, Education International, the International Federation of Journalists, the International Arts and Entertainments Alliance, IndustriALL Global Union, the International Transport Workers Federation, the International Trades Union Confederation (which represents workers across all sectors), the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Association, Public Service International, the Trades Union Advisory Committee to the OECD, and UNI Global Union. 

The delegation to Palestine comprised:  


  • Luc Triangle                  General Secretary

  • Jordania Ureña             Deputy General Secretary          


  • Christy Hoffman            General Secretary

  • Marcio Monzane            Regional Secretary UNI Americas

  • Ben Richards                Senior Policy Advisor 

Education International  

  • David Edwards              General Secretary 

  • Mugwena Maluleke        Vice President - Africa

  • Dalila EL Barhmi            Coordinator for the Arab countries 


  • Steve Cotton                 General Secretary

  • Paddy Crumlin              President


  • Atle Hoie                       General Secretary

  • Marie Nielsson              President


  • Daniel Bertossa             General Secretary

  • Christina McAnea          General Secretary UNISON, the public service union


  • Tim Dawson                  Deputy General Secretary


  • Ambet Yuson                General Secretary

  • Per Olof Sjoo                President


  • Sue Longley                  General Secretary