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Israeli and Palestinian unions make breakthrough agreement

Rebanadas de Realidad - ITF, Londres, 02/08/07.- Israeli and Palestinian transport trade unions yesterday reached a ground breaking agreement to work together at a meeting in Cyprus organised by the ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation).

The agreement was signed by Avi Edri, Chairman of the Histadrut Transportation Workers' Union; Naser Yunes, President of the Palestinian General Federation of Transport Workers; and David Cockroft, ITF General Secretary.

Twenty Israeli and Palestinian transport union representatives met for two days to tackle common issues such as collective bargaining, delayed payment of wages, loss of union membership and the increasing outsourcing of work to contractors. They agreed to establish a joint liaison committee to deal with practical problems faced by transport workers in the region and build trust between Israeli and Palestinian transport unions.

The committee will also focus on the problems faced by Palestinian transport workers at military checkpoints - a major concern for Palestinian drivers. The Palestinian union will set up a hotline for drivers and cases will be handled in coordination with the Israeli union. It was agreed that the Israeli union would request the Israeli security services to participate in the committee's work when relevant issues such as checkpoints and barriers are under discussion.

ITF President Randall Howard commented: "The participants were remarkable for their commitment to getting a job done which they believe will not only bring real benefits for transport workers, but in a small way set a direction for building wider trust and cooperation. People did not agree about everything, there were some raw and difficult moments, but they agreed to respect each other and try to work together. This joint declaration is, in my view, a remarkable achievement and a dramatic leap forward in defending and advancing the interests of Palestinian and Israeli transport workers."

Naser Yunes added: "The priority was to deal with transport workers' problems. We have to show our members that such initiatives can work. I believe that by working together we can really bring real and practical improvements for trade union members."

Avi Edri added: "We are very serious about this cooperation. I believe we can make a real difference working together."

Both men called on the ITF to maintain its role in supporting this initiative. Meanwhile David Cockroft committed himself to visiting the unions during the next 12 months. The declaration commits both unions to regular meetings of the joint liaison committee.

The meeting, held in Limassol, was hosted by the ITF-affiliated union the Federation of Transport, Petroleum and Agricultural Workers, whose General Secretary, Pantelis Stavrou, welcomed the delegates.

Photos and a video clip of the signing, along with the agreement, will be available online later today at www.itfglobal.org/index.cfm

The ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation) is a global union federation that represents around five million transport workers in nearly 700 trade unions in 150 countries worldwide. El presente material se publica en Rebanadas por gentileza de Sam Dawson, Oficial de prensa de la ITF / Web

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