GMB union seeks to expel anti-Zionist

FRFI supporters, Pete Gregson and anti-Zionist Rabbi Ahron Cohen demonstrate outside the GMB building in Glasgow

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 268 February/March 2019

In a demonstration of how the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is being used by the official labour movement to suppress any opposition to Zionism,  Peter Gregson, the only GMB trade union shop steward for a staff of 24,000 NHS Lothian workers, has been suspended with a recommendation that he be ‘permanently excluded from the union’. This follows a disciplinary hearing in Glasgow on 19 December 2018 for actions breaching the IHRA definition. Scotland GMB has accused Gregson of being an anti-Semite and a holocaust denier for launching a petition which confronts Labour and the trade unions’ adoption of IHRA, calling Israel a racist endeavour and stating that Israel uses the Holocaust for its own political ends. The GMB, like Britain’s largest trade unions Unison and Unite, has adopted the IHRA definition.

FRFI supported an all-day rally outside the disciplinary hearing, alongside supporters from the Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign, and a handful of principled individuals. Gregson now faces a hearing in London where the GMB National Executive will decide whether to accept the GMB Scotland recommendation for his expulsion. Gregson, who is appealing against the decision, told FRFI that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism ‘takes away your freedom of speech on Israel, it stops folk describing apartheid, the most racist state in the world and we’re not allowed to talk about it. It’s outrageous…councils have adopted it, the police have adopted it, universities, colleges have adopted it, trade unions, all the political parties, everywhere you go! The most excessive nasty things the Israeli government does to Palestinians and no British politician risks saying a word...’

Indeed, this silence and inaction have found a home in the official Palestine solidarity movement itself. Controlled by an array of trade union-affiliated organisations and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), the official movement has refused to support Gregson and has failed to mobilise against the adoption of the IHRA definition by Glasgow City Council. FRFI is mobilising supporters of Palestine in Glasgow to rally against IHRA at the next full council meeting on 21 February 2019 at the City Chambers, George Square, 12pm.

Dominic Mulgrew