WAC-MAAN’s petition to Israeli High Court succeeds in nullifying order preventing Palestinian union organizer from reaching his job in West Bank
Attorney Ron Rozenberg of the Israel State Prosecutor’s Office announced today, in the name of the security services, that “Hatem Abu Ziadeh will be permitted to enter the Mishor Adumim Industrial Area for employment at the Zarfati Garage,” and that “the temporary restraining order keeping him from entering the areas of Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria has been rescinded.” This is the outcome of a petition to the High Court made in September by Attorney Michal Pomerantz, representing the Independent Trade Union Centre WAC-MAAN and Abu Ziadeh, who heads the Zarfati Workers Committee.
After the announcement, WAC-MAAN’s lawyer wrote to the Zarfati Garage and demanded that it restore Abu Ziadeh to his job immediately. If this demand is not met, the next step will take place at the regional labour court in Jerusalem at the session scheduled for December 7; here WAC-MAAN will ask the court to obligate the Garage to renew Abu Ziadeh’s placement at once and to resume negotiations that were cut off in July. WAC-MAAN will also ask the labour court to make the Garage pay compensation because of its efforts to block unionization.
In July, the Garage made false complaints against Abu Ziadeh at the Maaleh Adumim Police Station, accusing him of maliciously damaging the brakes of an army vehicle under repair at the Garage. The Civil Administration then revoked his permit. The complaint was made to the police some 18 days after the supposed “sabotage,” and after the employer had already invited Abu Ziadeh (we repeat, he heads the Workers Committee) to a pre-dismissal hearing on grounds that had no connection to security. Against this background, the Zarfati workers opened a strike at the end of July, and WAC-MAAN turned to the labour court. Only then did the employer produce the security accusation, thus succeeding in preventing the Committee head from reaching his job.
Hatem Abu Ziadeh, who has worked at Zarfati for 17 years, had initiated the organizing drive in the Garage and was elected as chairperson of the local workers committee. The workers first organized within the framework of WAC-MAAN in June 2013. Under the leadership of the Union they started negotiating for fair wages and the benefits prescribed by Israeli labor law, including a legal pay slip, minimum wage, National Insurance, and other social rights. In July 2014, however, against the background of Operation Protective Edge (the Gaza war), the Garage began to move toward firing the Committee head and stopping the negotiations.
The cancellation of the restraining order against Abu Ziadeh amounts to a positive precedent in WAC-MAAN’s struggle for the rights of Palestinian workers in the settlements, where many Israeli employers manipulate work permits as a means of generating fear and preventing organization.
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