Global union hails Histadrut win in ports

According to the website of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), “News that unnecessary reform in the ports of Israel has been delayed is being welcomed by the ITF. Plans were announced earlier this year to open two new ports in Ashdod and Haifa, but a panel of National Labor Court judges has now ruled that no action will go ahead until September 2013.

“It was ordered that the Israeli ITF-affiliated union representing port workers, Histadrut, will now have to be consulted by the government in a period of ‘intense negotiations in good faith’ over the potential impact of the two new ports on workers at the existing terminals. Histadrut previously accused the government of failing to deal with the ‘devastating repercussions on the existing ports as a result of the establishment of new ports’ and of threatening behaviour.”

Read the full statement here.

Israel: Law passed to improve the conditions for contract workers

A law that significantly improves the employment conditions of contract workers in the public sector was approved in a second and third reading. Ofer Eini, Histadrut Chairman: “An important achievement that retrieves the honor to the weak employees in the economy.”

Two months after the Minister of Finance signed an agreement with Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini, the Knesset approved today in a second and third reading a law that anchors the agreement and significantly improves the employment conditions of contract workers in public bodies.

About 70 thousand cleaners and security workers will benefit from the new law. Employees will receive an increase to their wages to a minimum of NIS 4,650 (equivalent to US$1,306) per month compared with NIS 4,300 (equivalent to US$1,208) today, convalescence pay according to the civil service rates that will be determined by the number of seniority years, meals subsidization, gifts for the holidays on Rosh Hashanah and Passover, and additional conditions. Among other things, the cleaners are now eligible to join an education fund and the contractor will be required to set aside for him monthly payments at a height of 7.5% of the wages.

The law, which is expected to come into effect in practice in 75 days, sets that the working and wages conditions of contract workers in public bodies will be attached to the collective wage agreements that will signed with the permanent employees in this sector. Additionally, it was determined that the service contractors that violate the law will be subject to monetary penalties at a height of up to NIS 35,000.

Ofer Eini, Histadrut Chairman: “We succeeded in the struggle and we will continue to fight for the welfare of workers. This law is a major achievement in that it retrieved the honor to the weak employees in the economy. Together, we beat the discrimination of tens of thousands of workers and set a new reality in the field.”

Avi Nissenkorn, Chairman of the Histadrut Trade Union Division: “This is a very important day for a very large population of workers that in the eyes of many, to this day, were transparent workers without conditions.”

— From the Histadrut website

UK: Trade Union Friends of Israel to hold fringe event at the Trades Union Congress

TUFI will be holding a fringe event ‘Negotiating for Peace: how do we bring Israel and Palestinian workers together?’ on September 10 during this year’s TUC Congress. The fringe will be held at 12.30-2.00pm in the Purbeck Bar within the Bournemouth International Centre. Invited guest speakers include Community General Secretary Michael Leahy, TUC Head of International Owen Tudor, and Yachad Directeor Hannah Weisfeld. For further information e-mail info@tufi.org.uk

Union representing Jewish and Arab workers, mostly women, signs first-ever collective bargaining agreement in Nazareth

This is good news.

The Workers Advice Center (WAC), like Power to the Workers, is an independent trade union organizing workers that the Histadrut — Israel’s largest national trade union center — either hasn’t wanted to organize or been able to organize.  Their success in organizing Jewish and Arab workers, most of them women, at a beverage factory in Nazareth, is a tremendous victory and shows what can be done when people in the labour movement focus on what unites us — our class — rather than what divides us.

Big win for cleaners as Histadrut signs agreement to extend public sector conditions to private companies

The announcement this week by the Histadrut of a new agreement reached with the Cleaning Companies’ Organization is a huge step forward to cleaners.

The agreement equalizes conditions in the private sector with those in the public sector.  According to the Histadrut, here are some of the highlights:

  • The workers’ employment conditions and the salaries of cleaners and cleaning supervisors will be equalized as is the case in the public sector.
  • Seniority increment, study fund, convalescence pay, subsidized meals in the lunchroom in the workplace and a gift for the holidays will be given.
  • In addition, employees will be given work clothes and appropriate work equipment, payment for work on holidays and reimbursement of travel expenses.

Read more here.

International Transport Workers Federation votes unanimously to support Israeli port workers

At a conference last week in Chicago, delegates representing dock workers from around the world voted unanimously to support a resolution submitted by the Histadrut supporting the dock workers in Israel.

The conference, organized by the International Transport Workers Federation, took positions on a number of international disputes including the UK, USA and Australia and according to the press release issued by the ITF, “there were also emergency motions regarding support for port workers in Israel where the government has announced the establishment of two new ports”.

The resolution passed reads in full:

The ITF Dockers Conference that meets in Chicago on 8-9.7.13:

NOTES that on 3.7.13 the Israeli government announced through the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport the establishment of two new ports in Israel (one in Ashdod and the other in Haifa).

FURTHER NOTES that the announcement was made while sending defiant and threatening messages to the workers’ organization, without holding negotiations with the workers’ organization and without dealing with the devastating repercussions on the existing ports as a result of the establishment of new ports.

CONDEMNS the harsh remarks of the Minister of Economy before the announcement whether by threatening to bring the army into the ports or whether by publishing a post on his Facebook page in which he makes a horrible, despicable and inciting comparison of the port workers and the ants that need to be eliminated.

FURTHER CONDEMNS the incitement campaign that the Israeli government has held for a long time against the port workers in particular and against organized labor in general.

CALLS ON the Israeli government to take into account the implications for the existing ports and the workers as a result of the construction of new ports.

EXPRESSES deep concern that without regulating fair competition and equal conditions between the existing and new ports, providing flexibility in rates of the existing ports, and in general providing a financial and employment safety net to existing employees at the ports, there will be an economic collapse of the existing ports and layoffs of port workers.

Accordingly the ITF Dockers Conference:

SUPPORTS the just struggle of the Histadrut, the Transport Workers Union and the port workers in Israel.

DEMANDS from the Israeli government to stop the unilateral conduct of the Israeli government and calls on it to begin immediate and intensive negotiations with the Histadrut that represents the Transport Workers Union, which is affiliated with ITF, that represents inter alia the port workers in Israel.

ALSO DEMANDS from the Israeli government to immediately cease the wild incitement against the port workers.

FURTHER DEMANDS from the Israeli government to ensure the port workers’ rights regarding the port reform in Israel.

The International Transportworkers Federation has a long and proud history of working with Palestinian and Israeli trade union affiliates.

Most famously the ITF has brought their Palestinian and Israeli truck union affiliates to ease the life of Palestinian truckies by facilitating border crossings 

General strike averted – for now – as Netanyahu talks to Histadrut

Faced with the threat of a general strike to protest the proposed privatisation of Israel’s ports, the Netanyahu government has blinked.

According to this report in Globes, the Israeli Prime Minister phoned up the Histadrut and asked for a private, one-on-one meeting with Ofer Eini, the head of the country’s unions.

As a result of the meeting, the Histadrut has backed down from its threat to call a general strike and further talks are planned.

“Netanyahu apparently realized that he did not want a confrontation, especially when his government is so fragile,” a Histadrut source told “Globes” yesterday.

Israel: “Declaration of war” as Netanyahu tells Histadrut ports privatisation will go ahead

According to this report in Globes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to confront the Histadrut, Israel’s national trade union centre, over the issue of privatisation of the country’s ports.  The unions, and in particular the powerful ports worker union, oppose the privatisation measure.

“I am telling the Histadrut that it’s over. 2,000 people will not strangle us and will not paralyze the economy. Nothing will deter us. We must do this well, but we will do it,” said Netanyahu.

Globes reports: “The Histadrut and the ports’ workers committees oppose the plan for the new ports, demanding that the new ports be absorbed by the Ashdod Port and Haifa Port. They have threatened that allowing the operation of private ports would be a declaration of war.

 

Israel: Histadrut threatens strike in local authorities against outsourcing

According to this report in Ha’aretz, Israel’s national trade union centre “declared a labor dispute on Thursday because of what it said are an increasing number of outsourced workers and nonprofit organizations providing services for municipal governments. . . .  The declaration of the dispute theoretically paves the way for a strike by city workers, including municipal employees in the country’s three largest cities – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa – after a 14-day cooling-off period. The Histadrut says the increased use of outsourced workers risks the erosion of the employment terms and job security of municipal employees.”