The independent trade union Centre WAC-MAAN has declared a labor dispute and strike at M.S. Aluminum plant that employs dozens of Palestinian workers in the Mishor Adumim Settler industrial zone east of Jerusalem. This step results from the firm’s refusal to recognize WAC-MAAN as a representative union, and its refusal to open negotiations over a collective agreement.
The plant’s directorate has even rejected WAC-MAAN’s demand to hold a workers’ meeting in the plant’s compound, a refusal that violates the law of collective agreements. Their claim is that the workers do not need an “external mediator” nor a collective agreement, as they operate according to the general agreement existing in the relevant industrial area. These two claims are baseless and contradict the right of workers in every work place to form a local workers committee and negotiate an agreement that answers their special situation in the framework of the overall Industrial Branch Agreement.
At the same time the firm has exerted pressure on workers to keep their distance from the union and cancel their membership – also a violation of the law.
In view of the above the workers’ assembly has decided to take organizational steps and declare a labor dispute and strike at the plant. The assembly also unanimously elected a workers’ committee.
The cooling-off period of 15 days until the strike begins ends on February 18, 2015. WAC-MAAN has approached the firm in order to attempt talks – but in vain, the firm has opposed these attempts. Consequently, if M.S. Aluminum does not change its position until this date, WAC-MAAN and the workers intend to strike.
On January 1, 2015, WAC-MAAN informed M.S. Aluminum company that 31 of the plant’s workers have joined the workers’ organization (out of 65 workers in total), thus becoming the representative union for the firm. The workers decided to join WAC-MAAN because of the firm’s refusal to handle their complaints on various issues, including arbitrary fines, reduced pay for overtime, the lack of professional promotion, reduced pay for travel to work, as well as a refusal to remunerate workers for past privileges that had been denied them. For example – only last month has the firm begun to include workers in a pension plan.
Translated from Hebrew by Tal Haran