Picketers in Toronto Interrupt the Morning Shift at Pratt & Whitney, Aerospace Giant That Supplies Engines for Israel’s Drones and War Planes

By World BEYOND War, December 12, 2023

Toronto, Ontario — On Tuesday morning, more than 200 workers and community members from across the Greater Toronto Area picketed the Mississauga manufacturing plant of defence contractor Pratt & Whitney Canada. As Israel pursues its deadly assault on Gaza for a third month, the picket lines interrupted business as usual at an aerospace giant that makes engines for aircrafts that the Israeli military is using to carry out its bombing campaign against Palestinian lives and infrastructure. Encountering banners that read “Stop Arming Apartheid” and “Arms Embargo on Israel Now” as they arrived for morning shift, cars were turned away from the entrance to the factory.

“It’s despicable that Canada continues to send weapons to the Israeli military, which has killed more than 8,000 infants and children in Gaza over the last two months,” said Rachel Small, organiser with World BEYOND War. “As a parent, how can I ignore that companies like Pratt and Whitney right here in my city are shamelessly supporting and profiting from the mass murder of Palestinian children? If the Canadian government won’t stop the flow of weapons to Israel and stop companies like Pratt & Whitney Canada from exporting weapons used in Israeli war crimes, then those of us with a moral conscience are forced to take whatever actions we can to stop a genocide.”

In publicity materials, Pratt & Whitney has boasted that its relationship with the Israeli military dates back to 1947, before Israel was established. Today, the company manufactures the engines for the F-15, F-16, and F-35 warplanes that the Israeli Air Force is using to bomb Palestinians in Gaza. Pratt & Whitney Canada makes the engines that power IAI’s Heron TP (Eitan) UAVs. Israel uses the drones for airstrikes, surveillance, and target acquisition.

In 2015, Pratt & Whitney announced a 15-year contract to service the Israeli Air Force’s full fleet of F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, which it called their “longest-term, most comprehensive performance-based logistics contract.”

“Pratt & Whitney has been directly supporting Israel’s apartheid and military occupation for over 75 years,” said Hind Awwad, a spokesperson for Labour For Palestine. “With a 15 year contract to service the fleet of fighter jets carrying out the genocide in Gaza, it is profiting from Israel’s ongoing attacks on Palestinians, using mass killing to fuel a new, longer-term business model.”

Picketers demanded that the Canadian government call for an immediate ceasefire; impose an arms embargo on Israel; and end its support for Pratt & Whitney and other arms companies complicit in Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza.

“Labour unions across Canada have called for a ceasefire and many have called for an arms embargo on Israel. As trade unionists, we are putting these calls into action and encouraging union members across the country to do the same. We have the power to stop the flow of weapons to the Israeli war machine,” said Simon Black of Labour Against the Arms Trade.

“There can be no business as usual while Canada provides interest-free loans and other subsidies to arms manufacturers profiting off of Israel’s assault on Palestinians in Gaza,” added Dalia Awwad, an organiser with the Palestinian Youth Movement. The Canadian government has given Pratt & Whitney Canada at least $600 million in interest-free loans since 2010. “Canada must impose an arms embargo on Israel now.”

“We, the Tamil Freedom Coalition, fully condemn Pratt & Whitney because their 75 year-long support for Israeli crimes have rendered thousands of our Palestinian brothers and sisters refugees of genocide,” said Thanu Subendran of Tamil Freedom Coalition. “Tamils know what it’s like to face decades of displacement, exile, and structural genocide. We draw the parallels because the Tamil & Palestinian refugee experience is one and the same.”

This morning’s picket of Pratt & Whitney Canada answers the global call issued by 32 Palestinian trade unions to stop arming Israel. In recent weeks, workers from Australia to Italy, the UK and the US have responded. In Canada, companies involved in arming Israel, including INKAS, L3 Harris, Lockheed Martin, ZIM and Elbit subsidiary Geo-Spectrum Technologies, have all seen their operations disrupted.

For more information about Pratt & Whitney and Canada’s role in arming Israel, please view this document brief here.

Follow twitter.com/wbwCanada and twitter.com/LAATCanada for photos, videos, and updates during the picket.

High resolution photos and video are available for download here.

This action was organized by Labour For Palestine, Labour Against the Arms Trade, and World Beyond War. Together we demand that Canada stop arming Israel and an end to Israeli apartheid.

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