Labor Court rejects Histadrut request to strike

Histadrut ordered to resume negotiations with Treasury over employment status of contract workers for 3 weeks; court does not rule out future strike.

Labor Court President Judge Nili Arad 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Labor Court President Judge Nili Arad 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
National Labor Court President Nili Arad rejected Tuesday a Histadrut request to hold a general strike over the employment status of contract workers, one day after hearing submissions from the relevant parties.
Arad ordered the Histadrut to resume negotiations with the Treasury and employers for a period of three weeks. If no agreement is reached by then, the labor federation will be permitted to submit a new request for a strike, and Arad will hand down a new ruling.
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The Treasury said it already accepted resuming negotiations when Arad first made the suggestion during Monday’s hearing.
Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini said he accepted the order to return to negotiations, but added that it would make it harder for the Histadrut to bring good news to contract workers.
“Now we will have to conduct negotiations with our hands tied, and without the ability to put real pressure on the government and the employers,” Eini said. “We thought that the court would learn to understand that here is a one-time opportunity to start cutting down on the practice of using contract workers, which has turned into a symbol of the methodical exploitation of the weaker classes. But it seems that understanding has not been absorbed.”
Negotiations over the employment status of contract workers first began after the court allowed the Histadrut to hold a fourhour strike on November 7.
The Histadrut says it wants to put an end to the practice of employing cleaners and maintenance personnel on a contractual basis by giving them direct employment.
The Treasury says it supports improving the labor conditions of contract workers, but rejects discontinuing the practice altogether.