Ynet employees try to form union, may lose jobs

News site says terminations were part of ongoing budget cuts.

February 9, 2012 23:36
3 minute read.
Ynet website

Ynet website 390. (photo credit: Screenshot)

Three employees of online news site Ynet could face imminent dismissal, after management found out that they were recruiting fellow workers to join a recently formed journalists’ union, sources at the website said Thursday.

One of the three employees told The Jerusalem Post that two of them had been called for a hearing with Ynet management on Thursday morning, at which they had been told they were being fired because of budget cuts. The employee said that one journalist who had left the company but planned to return was told that he could no longer do so.

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The employee called the budget cuts explanation “a total lie” and said the management was “just trying to get rid of troublemakers.”

According to the employee, the saga began this week when a number of workers held a meeting with an attorney from the Union of Israeli Journalists to discuss organizing a workers’ committee from Ynet to join the union. The employee added that four of the workers had met with the union management this week and had also begun circulating an e-mail to certain Ynet employees, urging them to form a workers’ committee.

The e-mail made its way to management, which arranged the hearings, the employee said.

The employee characterized the environment at Ynet, the country’s leading news website, as explosive, with workers feeling anger and depression.

According to the employee, an attorney from the union contacted Ynet Thursday for an explanation, and the organization was waiting to see how the company responds before deciding what legal steps to take.

The entire episode “just proves the importance of a journalists’ union in the first place,” the employee added.

The three workers were Ariela Ganislov, the site’s chief home page editor, who has worked for Ynet for 12 years; Jonathan Silber, editor of the site’s technology section; and economic issues editor Tani Goldstein.

There were reports on Thursday that reporter Boaz Fyler was among those terminated. However, Fyler told the Post that although he had been brought in for a hearing and Ynet had asked him why it should keep him on board, he had been able to convince the management to allow him to stay.

He added that he had not taken part in organizing a workers’ committee, and that he knew there were budget cuts taking place at Ynet.

Fyler did say, however, that he thought the editors and reporters at Ynet and every other media body in the country should organize to protect their rights.

In a statement released on Thursday, Ynet Editor-in-Chief Yon Feder said he “did not know about any sort of organization carried out by the employees” and that the hearings were part of an ongoing process of budget cuts the company had been carrying out in recent months.

All together, he said, eight employees were brought in for hearings, and only two of them were involved in the workers’ organization.

The Journalists Organization in Israel was launched in January as a new union for media employees.

In a statement released Thursday, the organization said it had sent a letter from its attorney to Ynet, calling on the company to cancel the terminations.

The organization said that in the letter, it had threatened to sue Feder and the site’s management if they “don’t permanently cease their efforts to infringe upon the workers’ right to organize.”

It added that terminating the employees over attempts to organize was illegal.

The statement also quotes Israel's law on collective agreements that states that an employer cannot fire a worker, worsen their employment conditions, or refuse to hire employees because they either are members of a union or are working to form a union.

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