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Historic visit by UNI and Global Unions reinforces solidarity with Palestinian Workers, Calls for a ceasefire and a Palestinian State


Historic visit by UNI and Global Unions reinforces solidarity with Palestinian Workers, Calls for a ceasefire and a Palestinian State

In an unprecedented demonstration of solidarity, this week the leaders of eight global union federations, together with the ITUC, visited Palestinian unions and political leaders in the West Bank. Together, the delegation represented over 200 million workers from all sectors of the economy and thousands of unions.

Christy Hoffman, UNI General Secretary and the Chair of the Council of Global Unions, said, “This was such a memorable visit, owing to the urgent circumstances in Palestine and the power of our presence. We aimed to demonstrate solidarity with Palestinian unions and to explore how we can best advance the cause of Palestinian statehood as part of a two-state solution in the region. It was a significant effort, which was well appreciated by our hosts. My thanks go to the PGFTU for taking the lead in making the arrangements. It was especially an honor to meet with so many of the Ministers in the new government and with the President himself.” Christy Hoffman was also joined by Marcio Monzane, Regional Secretary of UNI Americas, and Ben Richards, Senior Policy Advisor of UNI.

Discussions with the unions focused on the harsh realities faced by Palestinian workers. UNI-affiliated unions in Palestine represent workers in finance, graphical, postal, and telecommunications sectors.

The difficult conditions for workers under Israeli occupation have been exacerbated by the war in Gaza and the increasing settler expansion and violence. Around one-third of Palestinian workers are unemployed in the West Bank, owing in part to Israel’s cut in tax payments to the Palestinian Authority. The waiting time at checkpoints is intolerable, and public services receive only partial pay, if any at all. Teachers have not been paid for eight months but continue to volunteer. About 160,000 construction workers are no longer able to work in Israel and have been forced to stay in the West Bank without any opportunities at all.

The delegation also met with the new Palestinian cabinet, including President Mahmoud Abbas, Deputy Prime Minister Samah Abou Oun, Minister of Labour Enas Dahadha, and Minister of Telecommunications and Digital Economy Abdel Razzaq Natsheh. These discussions focused on strategies for economic revitalization and pathways to self-determination in a post-war environment. Critical issues discussed included the potential end of the banking agreement with Israel, which could cause a collapse in the Palestinian economy. Every Minister emphasized that the restrictions on basic infrastructure imposed by the occupation prevented the economic development that they could imagine in a sovereign Palestine and that the recognition of Palestine as a state would be a first step on that road.

The last stop on the visit was a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who warmly welcomed the group and stressed that the Palestinian Authority had never authorized or condoned violence against civilians. Hoffman, who also spoke with the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), said, “Our commitment to the Palestinian people, their workers, and their unions remains steadfast. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the severe conditions in the West Bank demand immediate engagement from the international community. And we can never forget our longstanding commitment to a free and sovereign Palestine, living alongside a secure Israel.”

The eight global unions released a co-authored statement below with an important message of solidarity to the workers of the region.


Global union leaders affirm support for Palestinian trade unions and the Palestinian people

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, 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 well 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.”


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