[News] Israeli ship thwarted from offloading by South African dock workers

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sun Feb 8 11:04:21 EST 2009


  Israeli Shipping Line Zim Tries To Sneak Into South
  African Port For Offloading Cargo-Thwarted by SATAWU

Media Release: Victory for worker solidarity
Issued by Congress of South African Trade Unions 
(Cosatu) and Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC)
6 February 2009

The Congress of South African Trade Union is 
pleased to announce that its members, dock 
workers belonging to the South African Transport 
and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) achieved a 
victory last night when they stood firm by their 
decision not to offload the Johanna Russ, a ship 
that was carrying Israeli goods to South Africa. 
This, despite threats to COSATU members from 
sections of the pro-Israeli lobby, and despite severe provocation.

The Johanna Russ, flying an Antigua flag, is 
owned by M. Dizengoff and Co., an established 
"pioneer of the modern era of shipping business 
in the Middle East" and shipping agent for the 
ironically named Zim Israel Navigation Company. 
(Ironic because, last year, the same SATAWU 
members refused to offload the Chinese ship An 
Yue Jiang, which was carrying arms and ammunition 
destined for Robert Mugabe’s army.)

The worker action last night took place despite 
attempted subterfuge on the part of the owners of 
the shipping company. There was an attempt to 
confound the plan by arriving earlier than 
originally scheduled, which was 8 February. Dates 
for the berthing of the Johanna Russ were changed 
constantly. Yesterday morning, SATAWU members 
were told that the ship would dock this morning 
(Friday) at 02:00. Thanks to the vigilance of the 
dock workers, SATAWU discovered that the ship had 
docked on Wednesday morning and was due to be 
offloaded last night at 21:00. But the vigilant 
workers were on guard and immediately they 
realised that it had docked, they then refused to 
handle it, despite pressures from management. 
SATAWU members maintained their refusal to 
offload the ship and also attempted to ensure 
that scab labour would not be used.

A few hours after berthing, at 23:00, the Johanna 
Russ sneaked out of the Durban Harbour.

 From the beginning of this action, COSATU 
workers remained resolute about their position 
and were convinced that, following the recent 
Israeli massacres in Gaza, they will take 
determined action against Israel. Israel’s terror 
included flagrant breaches of international law, 
the bombing of densely populated neighbourhoods, 
the illegal deployment of chemical white 
phosphorous, and attacks on schools, ambulances, 
relief agencies, hospitals, universities and places of worship.

COSATU has now decided to intensify its efforts 
in support of the struggles of the Palestinian 
people. The worker victory in Durban yesterday 
spurs COSATU members on to more determined action 
in order to isolate the Apartheid state of 
Israel. Other Cosatu unions are currently in 
discussion about how they might also give effect 
to Cosatu resolutions on boycotts, divestment and 
sanctions against Israel, including a refusal to 
handle Israeli goods, and continuing pressure on 
our government to sever diplomatic and trade relations with Israel.

The momentum against apartheid Israel has become 
an irresistible force. We are proud to stand with 
the millions around the world who say ‘Enough is 
enough’. They are doing what we asked them to do 
when we faced the apartheid regime in our own country.

COSATU and the PSC call on all people of 
conscience to join us in boycotting Israeli 
products and institutions until a just, 
democratic state, with equal rights for all comes 
into existence in Palestine. This is just the 
beginning of a solidarity campaign which will 
continue until the demands of the Palestinian people have been won.

For more information, call:
Randall Howard (Satawu General Secretary) - 082 564 6298
Patrick Craven (Cosatu) – 082 821 7456
Melissa Hoole (PSC) – 073 906 0017
Bongani Masuku (Cosatu)– 079 499 6419
Salim Vally (PSC) – 082 802 5936
Na’eem Jeenah (PSC) – 084 574 2674

Freedom Archives
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San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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