(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
MK Lia Shemtov (Israel Beiteinu) ended her hunger strike on Thursday morning, after Haim Katz (Likud), the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee chairman, and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry promised that a bill regulating contract workers’ rights and enforcing labor laws would be brought to a vote by the end of the month.
“This morning I can eat again, because I believe that we are only weeks away from applying this bill, a general reform in labor laws, emphasizing contract workers, with MK Haim Katz’s help,” she said.
A week after the Histadrut (labor federation) declared a four-hour nationwide strike in support of contract workers, Shemtov declared a hunger strike on Tuesday, saying that she “cannot sit in [the Knesset’s] subsidized cafeteria while [contract workers] starve.”
Earlier this year, the Israel Beiteinu MK posed as a contract worker, cleaned blood in Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, and lamented what she said were poor conditions.
“This is great news for Israeli workers, especially contract workers,”
Shemtov said, after a series of meetings with ministry officials and
Katz assured Shemtov that the bill will be prepared for a vote at a
November 29 Labor, Welfare and Health Committee meeting, and will be
brought in the plenum that day.
Foreign Minister and Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman told
Shemtov that he supports her cause, and will demand that the coalition
pass the bill.
“When I started my hunger strike, I thought I’d end up in the emergency
room, because this bill had been delayed for four years, and is only
discussed when the media talks about contract workers,” Shemtov
explained. “Last week, the committee brought up the bill because the
Histadrut went on strike, and the previous time the matter was discussed
was a year ago, at my request.”
According to the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, the bill was
delayed due to disagreements over how to protect government employees
that hire contract workers.
The last time an MK went on hunger strike was in 2004, when then-Balad
MK Azmi Bishara protested the West Bank separation barrier.