“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>

Morris Zarfati refused to talk to us or answer our questions, saying only, “I don’t want to address this issue in the media. It is being dealt with at court. I prefer to do so there.”

We’ll mobilize the ordnance officer too

מחסום מישור אדומים

In addition to the submission of the complaint, police officers from Maaleh Adumim came to the garage in August, brought the workers into the manager’s room, and interrogated them as to whether “someone from the workers’ committee had threatened them.”

The appeal to the High Court noted the dubious legality of this form of questioning, since workers could be expected to be wary of contradicting what their employer has said when they are being questioned at their place of employment. Pomerantz also notes that “WAC-MAAN submitted a complaint to the police and received no reply. There is something problematic here that creates an illegitimate situation of police intervention.”

And as if all this were not enough, last December the garage submitted two letters to the labor court, signed by Major Eli Elmakias, head of the external garages department in the Ordnance Corps. One letter was from August and the other, Zarfati claimed, from December (the date on the second letter was illegible – N.H.). The letters concerned Abu Ziadeh’s employment and said, “Based on information we have, we ask that the Zarfati garage does not permit the above worker to handle military vehicles… We are against permitting the worker to come into any contact with military vehicles being repaired at the garage, for fear of [his] causing damage to the vehicles… the worker was previously kept away…”

Pomerantz explains that “it is impossible to know if the ordnance officer who signed the letters knows that the police file has been closed. In a previous mail from July 2014 he wrote that he opposes the employment of the worker as long as there is a file open against him. Now the question must be asked, on what basis does he write what he writes, when it’s clear he cannot harm a person’s livelihood without factual evidence? Already a month ago we contacted the State Attorney and still haven’t received a reply, and a week ago we contacted the State Comptroller and the Defense Ministry.”

Almost six months have passed since Hatem Abu Ziadeh lost his work permit and with it his livelihood of 17 years, but he does not sound bitter.

“Zarfati thinks it won because I’m a taxi driver now,” he says. “But we have already won, the workers joined WAC-MAAN, and we will soon be granted the other rights we should have.” Even regarding his own situation he remains optimistic: “I believe I’ll get the permit back and go back to work.”

No response has been received as yet from the IDF or Israel Police.

– Translated from the Hebrew by Yonatan Preminger

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