Unite News Release
For immediate issue Thursday 10 October 2019
Trade unions representing millions of UK workers and their communities have demanded that prime minister Boris Johnson deploy the UK’s influence to prevent a humanitarian disaster as a result of the Turkish invasion of north and east Syria.
Thirteen trade unions and a leading law firm are warning that President Trump’s ‘appalling’ abandonment of the fragile region will see Turkey seek its own military and strategic advantage which will `undoubtedly lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kurds as well as a resurgence of ISIS’ in the region.
The move by the unions is a major display of solidarity with those forces fighting against repression in the region. The unions say that the UK must show its clear and utter condemnation of Turkey’s invasion, calling for a no fly zone and international force deployment.
Having recently returned from the region, Simon Dubbins, Unite’s director of international, said: “We have been part of a parliamentary and union delegation to this region. It is plain for all to see how extremely dangerous the situation is and the human misery that will unfold unless the international community comes together and stands as one against this appalling and unwarranted aggression.”
In a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson the unions urge the UK government to condemn outright the Turkish aggression, reminding both the UK government and the international community of the debt owed to the Syrian Democratic Forces for their `sacrifice in stopping and defeating ISIS’.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing in relation to last Sunday’s appalling announcement by President Trump that he intends to immediately withdraw US troops from Syria. This is a green-light to a Turkish military invasion of North and East Syria, which, as we have already seen in Afrin, will undoubtedly lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kurds as well as a resurgence of ISIS.
The international community owes the Syrian Democratic Forces a debt for their sacrifice in stopping and defeating ISIS and building peace and stability in the region, they are our friends and allies.
We therefore call on the UK government to immediately condemn Turkey’s threats of invasion and to work with the international community to deploy an international force and enforce a No-Fly Zone to prevent the imminent catastrophe and protect civilian lives.
If the Turkish invasion is not stopped the SDF will be forced into a long and bitter war for survival against the second-largest NATO army. In the resulting chaos tens of thousands of ISIS fighters will escape their current internment and resume their barbaric acts of terror across the globe.
We demand that the UK government take action to prevent an invasion of North and East Syria by Turkey and protect the very people who have protected us.
Given the gravity of the situation we would appreciate an immediate response.
Len McCluskey – General Secretary, Unite the Union
Tim Roache – General Secretary, GMB union
Dave Ward – General Secretary, Communications Workers Union
Mark Serwotka – General Secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union
Mick Whelan – General Secretary, Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen
Manuel Cortes – General Secretary, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association
Mary Bousted – Joint General Secretary, National Education Union
Kevin Courtney – Joint General Secretary, National Education Union
Paddy Lillis – General Sectary, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers
Mick Cash – General Secretary, National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
Mike Clancy – General Secretary, Prospect
Ronnie Draper – General Secretary, Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
Larry Flanagan – General Secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland
Doug Nicholls – General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions
Stephen Cavalier – Chief Executive, Thompsons Solicitors
Notes to editors:
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.