Business group to petition High Court over Histadrut strike

National Labor Court President Nili Arad lifted an injunction last week against Histadrut strike over employment status of contract workers.

February 6, 2012 03:06
2 minute read.
Thousands of Histradrut members protest in TA.

histadrut protest. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

One of Israel’s largest business organizations will petition the High Court of Justice on Monday to prevent the Histadrut labor federation from holding a general strike later this week.

National Labor Court President Nili Arad lifted an injunction late last week against the Histadrut strike over the employment status of contract workers, clearing the way for it to begin on Wednesday morning.

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Her decision followed almost three months of negotiations between the Histadrut, the Treasury and employers, which she ordered after allowing the labor federation to hold a four-hour strike on November 7.

But the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC), which represents some of the nation’s largest employers, said Sunday in a preview to its High Court petition that the Histadrut was not using the strike as a way to improve workers’ conditions, but rather as an attempt to change the entire employment structure of the economy.

Arad’s decision took from the state the authority over economic management and placed it in the hands of the Histadrut, the FICC said in a statement to the press. It added that the only way to solve the dispute is to improve workers’ conditions through collective agreements, and not through allowing the Histadrut to decide how employers manage their businesses.

“The entire business sector operates in a competitive world, and if it does not have management flexibility, it will not be able to compete. The direct result will be the collapse of thousands of companies, as was the case during the crisis of the 1980s when labor-enterprise- controlled companies like Koor and Solel Boneh collapsed because they were told how and who to employ,” Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce President Uriel Lynn said.

Histadrut representative Avi Nissenkorn and Treasury representative Eyal Epstein were due to meet Sunday night to discuss the matter, ahead of a meeting the next night between Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini and Treasury budgets director Gal Hershkovitz.

Senior Histadrut officials will convene at the labor federation’s headquarters on Monday afternoon in preparation for the strike.

Should the strike go ahead, it will commence on Wednesday at 6 a.m. Ben-Gurion Airport will shut down only between the hours of 6 a.m. and noon each day, and all industries participating in the strike must comply with certain conditions in order to ensure that they do not endanger human life, personal safety or public health. Public transport services will be permitted to strike only partially to avoid paralyzing the entire system.

Arad ordered that both sides continue negotiations for the time being, and that they appear before her on Wednesday afternoon, after the strike has begun.

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