Union fights Israel ‘security risk’ claims to ban Palestinian union activists from West Bank workplaces

<p>The struggle at Zarfaty Garage is precedent setting. It is the first time that Palestinian workers in the West Bank settlements organize themselves to win a union voice and negotiate a collective agreement.</p>

Hotel workers in Los Angeles, unionists in Italy and Denmark have put their hands in their own pockets to raise funds for the legal defense of a Palestinian workers leader sacked for speaking up for union rights. Nearly US$2000 has now been raised from international contributions to defend Hatem Abu Ziadeh who was sacked from a West Bank settlement workplace – the Zarfaty Garage – during the middle of the Gaza war.

The independent Israeli trade union center WAC- MAAN needs to raise approximately US$10,000 for the ongoing defense of Abu Ziadeh and his workmates – and has successfully crowd-sourced some of the money to date. Please consider helping out.

Click here to contribute.

The struggle at Zarfaty Garage is precedent setting. It is the first time that Palestinian workers in the West Bank settlements organize themselves to win a union voice and negotiate a collective agreement. It will also set another important precedent as the union is forcing the courts to look at how Israeli employers manipulate entry permits as a way to get rid of militant workers seeking union rights. The case is important. It can be won. We need your support.

Contribute today to our emergency fund to defend Palestinian workers right to organize contribute here.

The union-busting activity in the West Bank, the harassment of the workers’ leader and an attempt to ban the union from accessing the workplace has triggered world-wide attention with nearly 8000 LabourStart e-mail messages of support sent to the Israeli Ministries of Justice and Labour.

Click here to send your LabourStart message.

A decision this week by the Jerusalem Labor Court – in favor of the independent Israeli trade union WAC-Maan – has now forced the company to start negotiating with the union under court supervision. “This decision provides our members an important new vehicle to put pressure on Zarfaty Garage to negotiate with our union in good faith,” Assaf Adiv, the WAC-Maan leader said. One of Israel’s top human rights lawyer is representing Hatem Abu Ziadeh and has written to the Israeli Attorney-General appealing the decision to ban the WAC Ma’an leader from entering the Mishor Edomim settlement in the Occupied Territories. “The security authorities refuse to say who was responsible for the decision to ban Hatem Abu Ziadeh. The company has switched tactics on this sacking at first claiming our activist was dismissed over work performance issues, then later, in court, claiming he was a ‘security risk’.

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Soda Stream update – The collective dismissal of some 40 Palestinian workers from Soda Stream company in Mishor Edomim created a massive public outrage, where dozens of articles in the press all over the world were published criticizing Soda Steam. Following the dismissal and WAC MAAN statement demanding to reinstate the workers (July 20) the company tried to appeal to the workers and get them to apologize. Some workers who were invited to attend a meeting in the factory were asked to sign a paper in Hebrew as a condition to be reinstated. Most of them refused to sign without knowing what they were signing and were notified that they were rejected. One of them who reads Hebrew asked to read it carefully and changed some sentences in consultation with the representative of the company only to learn a day later that the company refused to reinstate him. It should be mentioned that on August 9th (salary day in Israel) the workers who were fired on July 3 found out that the company did not pay them anything they deserve as dismissed workers (a salary for one month, compensations) which was another sign of the company contempt for them. WAC MAAN legal team is studying the case and prepares a collective appeal to labour court in the name of the dismissed workers.

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