Jerusalem Court to hear appeals of 3 Palestinian workers sacked by Zarfati Garage for union activism

<p>The conflict between WAC-MAAN and Zarfati Garage goes to the heart of the union’s right to represent Palestinian workers in Mishor Adumim, and to the heart of the rights of Palestinian workers there to organise.</p>

Starting March 2, 2015  the Regional Labour Court in Jerusalem will deliberate 3 petitions submitted by WAC-MAAN Workers Union to reverse the dismissals of three of its union activists at Zarfati Garage. Additionally, a major hearing is expected on  April 21 in the National Labour Court as  Zarfati has appealed a previous Regional Court  decision that recognized  WAC-MAAN as the representative union of its workers.

The conflict between WAC-MAAN and Zarfati Garage goes to the heart of the union’s right to represent Palestinian workers in Mishor Adumim, a West Bank industrial zone run by settlers, and to the heart of the rights of Palestinian workers there to organise. Employers in the region stand behind the Garage in support of its effort to prevent WAC-MAAN from gaining a foothold amongst their Palestinian workers. Recently, another employer, M.S. Aluminium, was reported to be applying systematic pressure on its workers, after they went on a two hour strike, to persuade them to forgo their WAC-MAAN union membership.

Deliberations in the Regional Labour Court in Jerusalem:

Judge Eyal Avrahami of the Jerusalem Labour Court is due to deliberate on WAC-MAAN’s petitions to reinstate the three workers that Zarfati dismissed as a part of a lengthy campaign to remove WAC-MAAN from its doorstep. The dismissed men are union representative Hatem Abu-Ziadeh, against whom Zarfati management has made a number of security-related and criminal claims, all of which have been disproved (see below); Nidal Rustum, a union activist who has been dismissed under the guise of redundancy; and Hassan Jelayta, a union representative who, at the end of a seven months’ sick-leave, was told by the garage he cannot return to work.

The treatment of the three dismissed men, two of whom are elected union members, and the third an activist with WAC-MAAN, illustrates the aggressive nature of Zarfati Garage’s actions. This position was also reflected in its appeal to the National Labour Court against a decision of the Regional Labour Court on December 28, 2014 which ruled that WAC-MAAN is the representative union in the Garage, and that therefore the garage is obliged to negotiate a collective agreement with it. Pending the National Court decision, Zarfati has ignored the Regional Court ruling and continues to dismiss workers illegally.

Collapse of the house of cards of accusations against union representative:
A letter of dismissal, sent on February 8, 2015 to Abu Ziadeh, gave no reason for his dismissal. This in itself was a breach of the law, because employers are obligated to specify the reason for the dismissal of their employees . This was not a coincidence, as the Garage had tried many versions in its attempt to dismiss Abu Ziadeh. For six months it led a campaign in which a number of false accusations were made against him, all of which have been disproved:

A complaint by the garage manager was filed with the police authorities on July 28, 2014, claiming that Abu-Ziadeh sabotaged a military vehicle while it was being repaired in the garage. The case was closed on Dec. 1, 2014 due to lack of evidence.

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