Court to rule on Pelephone union interference

Histadrut says it won’t negotiate on right of employees to unionize.

October 23, 2012 00:28
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The National Labor Court is expected to make a decision soon on what companies are and are not permitted to do when workers unionize, as the ongoing dispute between mobile carrier Pelephone and its employees continues.

A court-mediated meeting between Pelephone, the Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations and the Histadrut labor federation ended without resolution Sunday, with the Histadrut declaring that it will not negotiate on the right of employees to unionize.

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Histadrut representatives argued that employer interference in the unionization process prevents workers from choosing freely whether or not they join a labor organization.

“This is not a case of free market of opinions in which workers present their view and the employer presents its view,” Histadrut attorney Orna Lin said. “The employer on who the worker depends for his livelihood has a disproportionate weight in the matter and can have great influence on the worker’s consideration on whether or not to join a union.”

Pelephone CEO Gil Sharon wrote a letter to employees last week in which he called on them to resume work and told them that the ongoing dispute was harming the company’s financial performance. He wrote that he is unable to express any position about an individual worker’s decision to join a union, but said that such activity should not be allowed to disturb work.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce petitioned the High Court of Justice Monday in a bid to have it overturn a law in which a company is held legally responsible for the behavior of contract companies to which they have outsourced certain services.

In the petition, the FICC’s legal representatives argued that the law requires employers to act as enforcers on the state’s behalf, when enforcement should actually be the direct responsibility of the state itself.

Uriel Lynn, president of the business sector roof body, said the current regulations put at risk 450,000 small- and medium- sized businesses, which “are precisely those businesses that contribute to economic growth, create jobs and increase state revenues.”

These businesses “receive nothing from the state and bear the risks on their own,” Lynn said. “If they fail, family savings and the labor of many years goes down the drain.”

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