Countdown to general strike in Israel as mainstream media attack union

According to a report in the financial daily newspaper Globes, the Histadrut is only a week away from a general strike in the public and private sectors following failed talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahua.

Histadrut leader Ofer Eini is quoted as saying “We presented to the prime minister all our reservations about his announcement (of concessions) last Thursday but we have yet to receive any answers.”  Further meetings are planned for this week, including a meeting with the Minister of Finance tomorrow, and Eini says “After the meeting on Thursday we will decide how to proceed with our labor dispute.”

Meanwhile, the right-wing Jerusalem Post has run an article attacking the Histadrut for coming to the defense of low-paid workers who are not its own members.That’s not a typo — it’s actually what Asher Meir writes.  Here is an example:

“Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini is doing what labor bosses are supposed to do: threatening a strike if his constituents’ demands are not met. But let’s see what his demands are: raising the minimum wage of ALL workers, and lowering prices of certain staples for ALL consumers. These are political demands, not economic ones, and they are illegitimate ones for a labor union or federation.”

Ha’aretz has also run a column that contains a blistering attack on Eini and the Histadrut. Avi Bar-Eli writes:

“Sometimes Ofer Eini seems to be amusing himself with his power to make the nation’s leaders dance to his tune. It almost seems that he gets up in the morning, looks in the mirror and asks himself with a devilish grin, “What shall I make the prime minister and his ministers do today?””

To counter such hostile attacks in the mainstream media and to present its own side of the story, the Histadrut had its own daily newspaper, Davar, from 1925 until 1996.  That year, following years of declining circulation, it was closed.  At one point, the paper had a huge circulation and a staff of 400. Without a daily newspaper or an effective presence on the web, the Histadrut will find it difficult to challenge such hostile accounts in the mainstream media.

There have been no further updates on this dispute on the Histadrut’s own website in the last week.