Activists in Glasgow have staged a blockade at the BAE Systems factory, joined by coordinated protests across the UK and Europe, urging the company to sever ties with Israel and calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.
More than 100 activists have initiated a blockade at the BAE Systems factory in Govan, Glasgow, protesting the company’s association with Israel and advocating for a lasting ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
The demonstration, organised by pro-Palestinian activists in collaboration with Workers For A Free Palestine, aims to compel BAE Systems to sever all connections with Israel, including the trade of weapons, defence, and supplies.
The demonstrators are not only pressuring BAE Systems but also calling on the UK government to endorse a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and put an end to the occupation of Palestine, as both the West Bank and Gaza are officially designated as occupied territories by the UK government.
‘Through our actions, which are shared today with Workers for a Free Palestine in England and other worker groups across Europe, we are speaking directly to workers to say – you don’t have to take part in the chain of killing,’ a spokesperson from Workers for a Free Palestine explained to Euronews.
‘They are encouraged to get involved in their unions, and to refuse to work on projects linked to Israeli genocide and occupation.’
Public money on ‘caring not killing’
BAE Systems, a major defence contractor, is responsible for producing crucial components of weapons sold to Israel, such as the F35 combat aircraft and the MK 38 Mod 2 machine gun system.
In November, HMS Diamond, a vessel manufactured at BAE Govan, was deployed to the Persian Gulf in response to escalating tensions in the Middle East.
Additionally, armour for the Royal Navy’s second batch of Type 26 frigates, constructed at the same site, was sourced from the Israeli defence company Plasan.
BAE Systems is the UK’s leading military goods manufacturer, which has produced the components for 13-15% of Israel’s F35 orders. Moreover, after construction in Govan, Type 26 Frigate ships are fitted out with Israeli-developed armour.
Harsha, a carer aged 35 and amid the activists said, ‘It’s not right that BAE Systems profit from the genocide in Gaza. I’m also disgusted that whilst the Scottish Parliament have voted to back a ceasefire and the First Minister has spoken up in support of the Palestinian people, Scottish Enterprise has given funding to BAE. This public money, our money, should be invested in caring, not killing.’
Scott, a youth worker aged 26, said, We are not here to shame or blame workers at BAE. The company’s management decides what to produce and who to sell to – it is them we hold accountable for being part of the chain of killing.”
Revelations about Scottish Enterprise’s financial support have also come to light, with nearly £10 million granted to arms firms supplying weapons to Israel between 2016 and 2020, including £1.6 million to BAE Systems.
‘We hit BAE in the pocket today. They lost money because we were there, and this is one of the languages they best understand,’ Workers for a Free Palestine told Euronews.
This comes as numerous rights groups have taken the UK government to court over its arms exports to Israel during the ongoing Gaza-Israel war.
Demonstrations across UK and Europe
BAE Govan has been shut down in coordination with the blockade of three other arms factories in Bournemouth, Lancashire and Brighton.
Over 1,000 workers and concerned citizens are simultaneously blockading these four arms factories in the UK which provide arms to Israeli forces.
Simultaneous actions in France, Denmark and the Netherlands today have all been organised in response to a call by Palestinian trade unionists for workers around the world to disrupt the flow of arms to Israel.
Despite the controversy, the defence giant announced its intention to increase its Scottish workforce by adding 300 more apprentices and graduates in 2024.
BAE Systems responded to the protest by stating that it respects “everyone’s right to protest peacefully.”
This action in Glasgow is part of a broader, coordinated effort aimed at blockading three other arms factories located in different regions of the UK.
Read the full article here