MK Shemtov ends hunger strike

Israel Beiteinu MK says she’s sure contract workers’ rights reform bill will pass.

shemtov 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
shemtov 248.88
(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.
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.