“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 complaint to the police led to a snowballing bureaucratic process. Three days later Abu Ziadeh came to the Maaleh Adumim police station, at their request, to be questioned. He told the investigator that he had worked for 17 years at the garage and had never had any complaints leveled against him, and that these accusations had been fabricated by the garage management. At the end of the questioning, he was told to deposit 1000 shekels as guarantee; he was summoned to a hearing at the Ofer military court, near Ramallah, in April 2015, and his work permit was confiscated.

This compelled WAC-MAAN to wage a struggle on two fronts – one in the labor court with assistance from lawyers with expertise in such cases, and another with the police and the Civil Administration, with assistance from other lawyers, in order to fend off the accusations and enable Abu Ziadeh to retrieve his work permit.

The appeal submitted by Atty. Moran Savurai, who is representing WAC-MAAN in this case, noted that “it is important to emphasize that apart from the accusation of sabotage of a military vehicle, about which a complaint was filed with the police, with no evidence at all, regarding the other accusations about political activity in support of Palestine and waving a Palestinian flag – which, by the way, are not violations of the law – no evidence has been submitted during either of the employer’s declarations at court or during the court summary.”

In parallel to the labor court case, in September 2014, Atty. Michal Pomerantz (from the Smadar Ben Natan law offices) submitted a request to the High Court to return Abu Ziadeh’s work permit. In the appeal, Pomerantz describes in detail her correspondence with the legal advisor for Judea and Samaria, the head of the Maaleh Adumim police station, and representatives of the Civil Administration between July and September 2014, in an attempt to try every possibility to get back the work permit and avoid the need to turn to the court – but all in vain.

On November 30, four months after Abu Ziadeh’s permit was confiscated and he lost his livelihood, the State Attorney’s office sent a laconic reply: “Following up on our conversation of 27 Nov. 2014, I wish to inform you that according to what the respondents have told me, the reason for the temporary suspension of the claimant [Hatem Abu Ziadeh] from entering Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria for work purposes has been removed.” In other words, from now on, there is no reason why the employer should not get a work permit for Abu Ziadeh.

Ten days later, a notice from the police was received, saying the file against Abu Ziadeh had been closed since no evidence had been found to try him. The appeal to the High Court had thus compelled the authorities to come up with answers, but Pomerantz explains that the time taken by the authorities to determine the untruth of the claims was problematic: “Even in this there is a deterrent message to workers: that even if the security issue is removed, they may find themselves unemployed for months. In other words, this too is a significant threat against the workers.”

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