Yesterday marked the end of the first week of the strike at the Israeli mobile phone company Pelephone. The strike came about when the Histadrut successfully organized the workforce three months ago, but the management refused to enter into negotiations on a contract. Management continues to refuse to speak to the union. Yesterday, Pelephone workers, Histadrut leaders and social activists demonstrated outside the company headquarters. The union’s slogan for the campaign has been: “At Pelephone, there’s no one to talk to” – which is a fairly accurate summing up.
The Pelephone strike shows once again how the Histadrut has taken on the organizing of new sectors of the economy, such as mobile phone operators, which have proven difficult to organize in other countries. Unions like the Communication Workers Union (CWU) in Britain, which have struggled with these issues at Virgin Media and elsewhere, should be paying close attention to the Pelephone fight.
At the moment, the website of UNI Global Union, which represents communication workers unions around the world, has no mention of the ongoing strike in Israel, though UNI has no fewer than four affiliates in Israel. The Histadrut’s coverage of the dispute is, so far, entirely in Hebrew.