Workers For A Free Palestine Blockade Department for Business and Trade in London Protest

On May 1, 2024, over 1,000 workers protested UK arms exports to Israel, targeting factories and government offices. The protests highlight growing public pressure for an arms embargo, despite government and industry defenses.

author-image
Olalekan Adigun
New Update
Workers For A Free Palestine Blockade Department for Business and Trade in London Protest

Workers For A Free Palestine Blockade Department for Business and Trade in London Protest

On May 1, 2024, over 1,000 workers and trade unionists from the group Workers for a Free Palestine staged protests at UK factories over military arms sent to Israel, as well as the London offices of the Department for Business and Trade. The protesters aimed to show solidarity with Palestinian workers and oppose the UK's military arms exports to Israel.

The group said it was escalating its tactics by targeting both the arms manufacturer and the government department on the same day. Demonstrations took place outside BAE Systems sites in Glasgow, South Wales, and Lancashire, causing significant traffic disruptions in some areas. Police made arrests as pro-Palestine protesters targeted BAE Systems and the government in London after protesters blocked access to the Department for Business and Trade building.

Tania, a trade unionist and organizer for Workers for a Free Palestine, stated that the movement has forced the issue of an arms embargo onto the political agenda, despite the government and the Labour Party ignoring public opinion on the matter. "The majority of the British public wants to see arms sales to Israel banned, but the government and the Labour Party continue to ignore the will of the people," she said.

The protesters argued that UK arms and military support play a vital role in what they called the "Israeli war machine." They cited evidence that three British aid workers were killed by a drone partly produced in the UK, implicating trade, BAE Systems, and the government in London as proof of British complicity in Israel's actions against Palestinians.

Why this matters: The protests highlight the ongoing controversy surrounding the UK's arms exports to Israel and the role they may play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The demonstrations also reflect growing public pressure on the government to reconsider its stance on the issue.

BAE Systems acknowledged the right to peaceful protest but defended its compliance with all applicable defense export controls. The company stated that it operates under tight regulations while supplying military equipment to Israel. The UK government has not yet commented on the protests in the UK or the calls for an arms embargo.

Key Takeaways

  • Over 1,000 workers protested UK arms exports to Israel on May 1, 2024.
  • Protesters targeted BAE Systems sites and the Dept. for Business and Trade.
  • Protesters aim to pressure UK govt to ban arms sales to Israel.
  • Protesters cite UK complicity in Israeli actions against Palestinians.
  • BAE Systems defends compliance with export controls, govt yet to comment.