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Swedish dock workers act against Isarael

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By Sapa-AP

(source: The Star – June 24, 2010 Edition 1)

STOCKHOLM: Swedish dock workers launched a week-long boycott of Israeli ships and cargo yesterday to protest over Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine pro-Palestinian activists last month.

About 1 500 members of the Swedish Port Workers Union began the boycott at Sweden’s ports, which handle up to 95 percent of the country’s foreign trade. The action is due to end on June 29.

"Even if goods arrive in trucks, dock workers often have some role in handling them when they arrive in port," said Per Helgesson, attorney and chief negotiator at Ports of Sweden, an industry and employers’ organisation for the sector.The union supported the international aid convoy and demands that Israel lift its blockade on Gaza.Several Swedish activists were on the flotilla when Israeli commandos attacked it on May 31.

Israel recently eased the three-year-old blockade under international pressure, but union spokesman Bjorn Borg said the measure was insufficient. "We don’t think it is far-reaching enough," Borg said. "We want them to lift the blockade."Borg said stevedores in the south-western port of Goteborg had already refused to handle about a dozen containers containing cargo from Israel or goods destined for it.

Officials said they expected the boycott to have a minimal impact on Swedish-Israeli trade, which accounts for 0.2 percent of the Nordic country’s total imports and exports.Last year, Swedish exports to Israel were valued at 2.5 billion kronor (R2.4bn) and imports amounted to about 850 million kronor, according to the Swedish Trade Council.