“Security” as a pretext against unionizing

<p>When the Zarfati garage became wary of the workers’ committee chairperson, they simply framed him using nationalist claims. They brought in the Civil Administration and the police, then sent him to military court.</p>

The court also emphasized that it was not convinced by Zarfati’s claim that he had acted to promote his workers’ rights regardless of WAC-MAAN’s activities. The court noted that both sides agree that they had held talks during that year, and this had led to Zarfati’s concern over applicable laws. As the court put it, “The respondent’s claim that the improvement in employment terms had no connection with the claimant’s demands [i.e., the demands of WAC-MAAN – N.H.] does not sit well with the facts.”

To be given minimum wage with a legal wage slip after years of employment was indeed an achievement for the workers, but regarding other fundamental issues the garage refused to seek a solution.

“Zarfati claims it is now doing everything according to the law,” said WAC-MAAN’s National Director Assaf Adiv, “but as soon as the pay of non-skilled workers was raised to minimum wage, a third of the workers who had organized, including skilled workers, still received the same minimum wage. Then another question arose regarding the wage that should be paid according to the collective agreement signed by the Israel Garage Association, of which Zarfati claims it is a member. The Association has an agreement which determines wage scale, levels of professionalism, wage increases, and seniority. All the things Zarfati didn’t deal with.”

However, the main point of contention concerns past debts. A large number of the workers have been employed at the garage for a long time, some more than 20 years, but minimum wage and other benefits determined by law have been paid only since 2013, without reference to past years in which they were not paid. Such behavior appears in an even more serious light considering that Zarfati was one of the respondents in the 2007 High Court case (the “Givat-Zeev” case). This ruling determined that Israeli labor law is applicable to Palestinians employed in settlements, and that they are entitled to minimum wage and peripheral benefits in keeping with Israeli labor law. Despite this, between 2007 and 2013, the garage ignored the court ruling and continued to avoid paying minimum wage and other benefits.

There is no enforcement

This raises another more worrying question, with far-reaching implications, concerning the tens of thousands of Palestinians employed by Israelis in terrible and sometimes dangerous conditions, as Ido Landau described in a report for “Hamakom” on the Nitzanei Shalom industrial zone. Why did the authorities not intervene to enforce the law and deal with violations? This is not just an issue that concerns the Regulation and Enforcement Administration of the Economics Ministry, but also falls within the responsibility of the Population and Immigration Authority.

In theory, inspectors from the Regulation and Enforcement Administration are supposed to ensure that workers received their rights. In addition, because the employment of Palestinians is subject to registration and work permits, the Payments Division of the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority is responsible for “regulating the employment of Palestinian workers including collecting and paying wages and peripheral benefits.” However, nothing was done for the workers, who for many years had put in six days a week for some 3,000 shekels per month without protection in case of on-the-job accidents or illness.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

Pages ( 2 of 5 ): « Previous1 2 345Next »

About Niv Hachlili