SA Unions call on Woolworths to end Israeli ties

PRESS STATEMENT: Unions call on Woolworths to end Israeli ties or face dis-investment

25 November 2015

Six trade unions with membership of over half a million have signed a statement calling on Woolworths to end its Israeli trade or face dis-investment.

The unions who have signed the statement include NEHAWU, SADTU, POPCRU, CWU, SACCAWU and LIMUSA. Some of the signatories are significant and large contributors to the Public Investment Corporation (via the GEPF and UIF). The PIC in turn is the largest institutional shareholder at Woolworths. The joint statement reads as follows (also find attached):


Israel is guilty of apartheid and gross violations of Palestinian human rights.

In 2005 Palestinians in their absolute majority called on the international community to boycott, divest and impose sanctions against Apartheid Israel until it complies with international law. This call by Palestinians for BDS was based on the successful boycott and divestment of Apartheid South Africa.

When this Palestinian call was issued for BDS, COSATU and its affiliates were some of the first international trade union federations to endorse the BDS call.

Woolworths Holdings Limited, a publicly listed company on the JSE, has the Public Investment Cooperation (PIC) as one of its largest shareholders. In turn, the PIC has, firstly, the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) as its largest contributor (the GEPF accounts for 88.81% of the assets under PIC management) and, secondly, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), as its second largest contributor ( the UIF accounts for 6.21% of the assets under PIC management).

We are demanding that Woolworths immediately terminates its trade links with Israel until such a time that Israel complies with international law and ends its oppression of the Palestinian people.

If Woolworths does not end relations with Apartheid Israel and Israeli companies then we will lobby (via the GEPF, UIF and through other avenues that we have representation) for the PIC to divest from Woolworths Holdings Limited because of its involvement with Israeli companies in general and Israeli agricultural companies in particular. 

The demand that Woolworths ends its relations or face divestment is similar to the actions of trade unions, churches and pension funds across the world who are divesting from Israeli or Israeli linked companies. Furthermore, the strategy of divestment was used by churches, trade unions and pension funds in the 1980s in the struggle against Apartheid.

As unions who are in solidarity with the Palestinian people and other oppressed groups, as internationalists, we cannot be silent as contributions of the working class are going towards a company complicit in the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.

We will continue to advocate for the right of self-determination of Palestinians and their right to live free from a brutal Israeli military occupation because as Nelson Mandela: “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians”

Endorsed by National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), South African Democratic Teachers Unions (SADTU), Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU), Communication Workers Union (CWU), South Africa Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU), Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa (LIMUSA).

The #BoycottWoolworths campaign is expected to form part of discussions at COSATU’s current 12th elective conference taking place at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg. Activists are calling on Woolworths to dump its Israeli products and instead source locally or from other African countries.


NEHAWU: Thulani Skosana, 0824552289

SADTU: Nomusa Cembi, 0713551566

POPCRU: Richard Mamabolo, 0796700274

CWU: GS Aubrey Tshabalala, 0817408921

SACCAWU: GS Bones Skulu, 0823365015

LIMUSA: GS Cedric Gina, 0844245026

BDS South Africa: Kwara Kekana, 074054 3826




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