Palestine: Big strike by government workers

According to this report, “Around 95 percent of [Palestinian Authority] government employees answered their union’s call to strike on Sunday, the union chief said. . . .the strike was the first step of protests held by the union until the government meets their demands.” The union has “called on the government to start serious talks with employees and asked it to be fair in dealing with workers’ unions. The union will escalate its strike to two days next week and three the following week before starting an open strike on Oct. 6.”

UK: Israeli academic takes UNISON to court, alleging “racial discrimination”

For the second time in less than a year, a British union has been taken to court, accused of discriminatory practices regarding Jews and Israelis.  This time it’s the turn of the giant public sector union, Unison.

Israeli academic Moty Cristal had been invited to help run a conflict resolution workshop for Britain’s National Health Service in Manchester, but later found himself disinvited with the explanation given that his presence — as an Israeli — conflicted with the policy of Unison, which represents workers in the NHS.

Unison nationally has denied having any such policy.  While it opposes the sale of goods produced the Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, it has never adopted a position calling for a blanket ban on all Israeli products, or for that matter, all Israelis.

The case is being heard this week in the Central London County Court.

There has been extensive coverage in the media:

Israel: Gov’t investigators visit 63 businesses – and find 57 violate foreign workers’ rights

According to this report on Arutz 7, in the largest operation of its kind ever undertaken by the Ministry of the Economy, 63 businesses were visited by Ministry inspectors on Tuesday and 57 of those were found to be violating the rights of foreign workers who legally reside in Israel.  About 150 employees were interviewed by 50 government inspectors.

They found employers guilty of “not paying minimum wage, overtime, withholding wages, forcing employees to work unreasonable hours, and denying vacation benefits.”  According to the report, “Criminal charges are being filed.”

Palestine: Health workers to strike

According to this report from Ma’an, angry Palestinian health care workers have decided to go on strike to protest consistently late payment of their salaries.  They accuse the Palestinian Authority of “endless stalling” following strikes by health care and other public sector workers earlier this year.

Israeli port strike coming up?

According to this report in the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s national labour court is due to rule in the next few days on whether the port workers union can legally strike.  The union, backed by the Histadrut labour federation, is opposing the building of two new privatised ports — unless there are guarantees that they will not introduce low-wage conditions into the industry.  The Histadrut has filed a detailed report on why it opposes the government plans to introduce “competition” of this kind.  Meanwhile, angry port workers were reported to have disrupted the hearing.

UK: Union-backed “Palestine Solidarity Campaign” openly challenges Israel’s right to exist

Critics have long suspected that the London-based “Palestine Solidarity Campaign” opposes a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians and considers the very existence of the Jewish state to be illegitimate.  (Their logo is a map of an undivided Palestine.)

Union supporters of the PSC sometimes deny that, saying that the organisation does support two states, though there is little evidence of this.

This week, the PSC once again seemed to be openly challenging not this or that Israeli policy, but the actual existence of the Jewish state.

In a letter the campaigners sent to the BBC, they criticize the television station for showing a new series on the history of the Jews.  The PSC press release about this letter includes a link to an article in the Jewish Chronicle in which the series’ presenter, Simon Schama, says that the last programme in the five part series “takes the viewer up to the present day, focusing on the impact that the Holocaust has had on the modern state of Israel.”

The PSC says “Here we have the BBC giving a platform to a Zionist to make a ‘moral case for Israel’, unopposed, unchallenged and unanalysed.”

In other words, what concerns the PSC, which is supported by many of Britain’s largest trade unions, is not so much Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, but its very existence — which needs to be “opposed, challenged and analysed”, as they put it.

South Africa: Anti-Israel protesters sing “shoot the Jew” at BDS demo

Anti-Israel activists in South Africa have taken their hostility to the Jewish state to a new extreme.

At a protest organized by “BDS South Africa” last Wednesday at Johannesburg’s Wits University, some demonstrators were heard to sing “dubula ijuda” — meaning, “shoot the Jew”.

Initially, the protest organizers defended the singing, and one of them was quoted as saying that the phrase was not meant literally.

But after a media firestorm, the leaders of the organization changed course and distanced themselves from the singing.  In an official statement, BDS South Africa now says “Given our history of work against racism, including anti-Semitism, we unequivocally distance ourselves from the singing of this song and its sentiments.”

While this is, of course, a positive development, it did take six days for the organization to issue its statement.  And nowhere does it acknowledge that the extreme anti-Israel rhetoric common in the pro-Palestinian movement in South Africa (and elsewhere) may have contributed to an atmosphere where people felt comfortable singing about shooting Jews.

It is not clear what the relationship is between “BDS South Africa” and unions in the country, though in the past the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has promoted pro-BDS activities, including those featuring the leader of this organization, Professor Farid Esack.  Its statements continue to support the BDS campaign and it does not seem to have joined the public condemnations of the anti-Semitic singing last week.

History made at Cellcom as company recognizes union

According to this report in Globes, the daily business newspaper, “history has been made at Cellcom” with the recognition of the Histadrut as the union representing the company’s employees.  Cellcom is a major mobile phone carrier in Israel and this is a huge win for organized labour in the country.

Got news from your country?

TULIP runs reports on the fight in the labour movement in support of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians — and against racist boycotts.  If you have news in your country — and we’ll publish both good news and bad — please let us know – email   Thanks!

Histadrut: Netanyahu gov’t has dug in its heels, not engaged in good faith bargaining over ports privatisation

According to this report in Ha’aretz, the Histadrut has accused the Netanyahu government of refusing to engage in good-faith bargaining and digging in its heels over the issue of ports privatisation.  The government plans to issue a tender to allow private companies to bid on the construction and operation of new ports — which is bitterly opposed by unions which see this in part as an effort to crush the country’s powerful ports workers union.

Histadrut leader backs opposition to Labour’s Yacimovich

According to this report in the Jerusalem Post, Histadrut leader Ofer Eini has joined the ranks of opponents to the leader of the Israeli Labour Party, Shelly Yacimovich.  In a vote due to take place on 21 November, Labour Party members will choose a new leader — and Eini is reported to be backing the candidacy of Isaac Herzog, a member of Knesset and son of a former Israeli president.  Yacimovich defeated former Histadrut leader Amir Peretz and ran a campaign based almost entirely on economic issues neglecting, in the views of her critics, other key issues such as the conflict with the Palestinians.  Herzog claims that as a result of this, Labour did poorly in elections earlier this year.  In its coverage of the race, Ha’aretz reports that while Eini backed Yacimovich when she ran against his predecessor, Peretz, he has changed his mind this time and is supporting Herzog.



Palestinian teachers’ union “confident” in Abbas’ promises

According to this report on the Ma’an website, the Palestinian teachers’ union is now confident that President Abbas will fulfill his promises — following strike action earlier in the year.  The union has demanded improved working conditions, “a regular promotion system, recognition of teaching as a profession, and adherence to the career ladder”. On Sunday, the union will meet with caretaker Palestinian prime minister to discuss these issues and has warned that industrial action might resume if it is not satisfied with the results.