WAC-MAAN petitions the High Court of Justice to immediately reinstate work permit of workers’ committee chairman

<p>developments in the struggle of Palestinian workers at Zarfaty Garage</p>
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5th Update: developments in the struggle of Palestinian workers at Zarfaty Garage

On Monday, 27 October, HCJ judge Noam Solberg decided to accede to the State Prosecution’s request and push back by 30 more days the deadline for its response to the petition by WAC-MAAN and Hatem Abu Ziadeh. The petition was filed to demand the reinstatement of Mr. Abu Ziadeh’s revoked work permit, which for three months now has prevented him from continuing to work at Zarfaty Garage in the Mishor Adumim settlements’ industrial zone.

The HCJ deadline was postponed despite the objection of Atty. Michal Pomrantz, representing both WAC-MAAN and Mr. Abu Ziadeh, demanding that the court hasten the discussion, as keeping Zarfaty workers’ committee chairman Mr. Abu Ziadeh away constitutes a severe injury of the right of workers to organize freely. It additionally denies Hatem, a father of six, of his livelihood, causing him severe harm.

hatem in courtAt the same time, on 23 October the Regional Labor Court in Jerusalem set a date for discussing a petition by WAC-MAAN against Zarfaty Garage, centered on the requirement that the garage recognize the union’s representative status and negotiate with it for a collective agreement at the garage. The Labor Court petition was submitted in July, by WAC’s attorney Aya Bartenstein after Zarfaty Garage management initiated dismissal procedures against the chairman of the workers’ committee, and in light of its attempts to break the strike the workers initiated on 22 July 2014.

Following the strike and the workers’ struggle, the garage management escalated  its measures and submitted a false and baseless complaint with police, claiming Mr. Hatem Abu Ziadeh had intentionally done harm to a military vehicle under his care in the garage. This claim was raised one week after the garage management sent Mr. Abu Ziadeh a letter summoning him for a hearing before dismissal, for reasons of “organizational changes and personal mismatch.” The police complaint is the basis for security authorities revoking Mr. Abu Ziadeh’s work permit – for which the HCJ was petitioned.

It should be noted that since the end of July, Zarfaty Garage has halted all negotiations with WAC-MAAN and refuses to have any contact with the union organization, after a year of ongoing contact, including 7 meetings and written exchanges over email and text messages. Zarfaty Garage has attempted persistently to cut WAC-MAAN out of the picture and described it as an external organization that does not represent the workers and only causes a disturbance to working relations. Their efforts included inviting two workers, members of the committee, for a meeting with the management, and presenting this meeting as an alternative to negotiations with the workers’ organization.

This behavior, and especially the attempt to keep the representative workers’ organization away from the premises of the garage, violates the Collective Agreement Law. Just recently, the Labor Courthanded down a fine for NIS 1 million to telecom provider Hot Mobile for infringing on the right of workers to organize in a workers’ union.

WAC-MAAN held a workers’ assembly on Wednesday, 29 October, to update all of the workers about the developments. The workers declared that they continue to stand with WAC-MAAN as their representative union organization. The two members of the workers committee who were “invited” to attend the meeting with the bosses signed an affidavit testifying that they had never agreed to replace the role of the union. These affidavits will be presented to the Labour Court as part of the update prepared by WAC Maan’s Lawyer towards a session that was set up to December 2.

WAC-MAAN is continuing its solidarity campaign for the Zarfaty workers, focused on the demand that the security authorities stop serving exploitative employers as a lever to pressure workers with. It also  insists on the reinstating of Hatem Abu Ziadeh’s working permit. WAC-MAAN has produced a documentary film about the struggle, soon to be released.

Important solidarity actions and donations have been contributed by several unions, organizations and individuals in Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Britain and other countries. These contributions helped us fund additional legal expenses it encountered, the production of the film, payment of one month salary to the dismissed leader of the workers committee and other parts of the campaign.

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We call on all supporters of Zarfaty Garage’s Palestinian workers to initiate petitions and letters to Israeli embassies in their countries and to demand an end to the persecution of Zarfaty Garage workers’ leader Hatem Abu Ziadeh and the immediate reinstatement of his working permit..

For more information, for a copy of the movie, and to coordinate the campaign in your country, contact Assaf Adiv assafa@maan.org.il Tel. +972-50-4330034.

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