WAC delegation meets union representatives and leftwing leaders in the Netherlands and Denmark

At the beginning of October 2012, a delegation of the Workers Advice Center (WAC-Maan) visited Denmark and the Netherlands to strengthen ties with local unions there. Delegation members included WAC executive director Assaf Adiv and a representative of the Salit Quarries workers, Niaz Kadadha, from ’Atara, near Ramallah in the West Bank. The delegation emphasized WAC’s uniqueness as a union developed in partnership by Jews and Arabs, committed to struggling for every worker regardless of his or her religious or ethnic background.

The delegation met with representatives of the International Solidarity branch of LO, the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions, and with Mr. Bjarne Larsen from the Federation of Salaried Employees, the largest union of the confederation. The WAC delegates also took part in protests organized by the confederation against anti-union legislation and calling for improving the lot of the unemployed. The delegates were invited to speak at one such protest, on Oct. 2 in Copenhagen. WAC was hosted by two members of parliament from the leftwing Red-Green Alliance, Christian Juhl and Finn Sorensen, who also organized the delegates’ agenda which included visits to some of the union’s branches.

One of the most interesting meetings for Kadadha and Adiv was with the workers’ committee of the ground crew of SAS, the Scandinavian airliner, whose determination is being put to the test as ownership of the company’s ground activities are transferred to another company. The Danish activists, mostly manual laborers at Copenhagen’s international airport, held a day seminar to discuss tactics in the struggle vis-à-vis the new company. However, they also found the time to meet the WAC representatives and showed great interest in WAC’s experience in building a Jewish-Arab union in a country torn by national conflict.

The Dutch private-sector union FNV Bondgenoten hosted the delegation’s visit to the Netherlands. This is the largest Dutch union with some half a million members. Sascha Meijer, assistant to the union’s president, hosted the delegates and arranged meetings with union president Henk van der Kolk, the union’s organizing coordinator Peter Moossdorff, the union’s solidarity committee, and leaders of branch unions affiliated with FNV Bondgenoten. The delegation also met with activists from the state employees’ union Abvacabo FNV, who are active on the issue of solidarity with the Palestinians.

On Oct. 4, the WAC delegates were invited to the monthly assembly of Domestic Workers Union activists, all of whom are migrant laborers in the Netherlands (some do not even hold work permits). The union supports and assists migrant laborers from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Ghana, North African states and other countries, struggling for their rights, for a collective agreement and for protective legislation. WAC’s meeting with these activists was particularly moving. Kadadha told them about the Palestinian workers at Salit Quarries, whose situation reminded many of those present of their own employment terms, while the Salit workers’ courage in their struggle was a source of inspiration for all.

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