Dimona nuke workers ask courts' permission to speak to media

Israel states their work is a matter of national security, but the scientists claim their right to fight for better working conditions.

Dimona nuclear reactor 521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Dimona nuclear reactor 521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Scientists working for the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, including at the nuclear reactor near Dimona, requested on Sunday that the Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court uphold their right to speak to the media about an ongoing dispute with the government.
The labor dispute dates back years, but in recent weeks, certain workers have said they would go on a partial strike to protest what they say are low salaries and government foot-dragging on a broader labor agreement. In response, the government issued emergency orders on August 14 to compel them to end their strike, arguing that their work at the Dimona reactor and on other programs were vital to the country’s national security.
The workers filed a request last week with the Beersheba Regional Labor Court to cancel the government’s emergency orders. They asserted that none of those seeking to strike could in any way undermine the country’s security and that the issue of security was being used by the government to abuse their working conditions.
Sunday’s request to permit them to be interviewed in the media, filed by Tzvi Gelman of the Ariel Shemer law offices, marked the launch of a legal attack on a second front in an attempt to raise the workers’ profile and dispel any notion that their strike harmed national security.
The legal brief said the government was “abusing the power gap between the parties and trampling the basic and constitutional rights” of the workers’ public representative to free speech “without there being a truthful basis for doing so.” It claimed the government’s actions in the labor dispute were motivated by “foreign and illegal considerations” and were meant to “apply improper pressure... to break” the workers’ resolve.
Further, the brief said that prior to issuing the emergency orders, the government had agreed to allow the workers to continue their partial strike. It said this proved that the strike was legitimate and proportional, and posed no threat to security.
Separately, the High Court of Justice is due on September 7 to hear a petition by Avner Cohen, an expert on Israel’s nuclear policy, and the Israeli Movement for Disarmament to address a range of regulatory issues related to the Israel Atomic Energy Commission.