Labour struggle in West Bank belies claims of harmony

In early December a Palestinian worker went on a rampage through a shopping mall in Mishor Adumim, injuring a number of Israelis with a knife. In the aftermath of the...

In early December a Palestinian worker went on a rampage through a shopping mall in Mishor Adumim, injuring a number of Israelis with a knife. In the aftermath of the attack, Rami Levy, owner of the supermarket chain that owned the store lambasted the attack as an attempt to undermine the peaceful harmony which Arab and Jews worked in at the site.

But Hanieh highlighted that the inequality between the Israeli employer and Palestinian worker only stands to enforce the latter’s subservience to the former, particularly in the context of land colonisation and dispossession

“In this context, any assertion that this represents ‘cooperation and coexistence’ really only serves to hide exploitation and occupation,” he said.

“A strong labour movement not only helps to win better social conditions, it is also integral to building political alternatives – an essential and long-overdue need in the current juncture.”

“It’s the same fight”

Abu Ziadeh’s case against his employer is still being deliberated upon in a labour court.

“Still the employer insists that he is a threat to security.” said Adiv. “He came to the labour court with a document from a law level officer in the army that sends the Garage the vehicles said that, in effect, they do not want Hatem to work on their cars.”

“We are waiting for the decision of the Jerusalem Labour Court that is due in the coming weeks and we believe it will recognize WAC-MAAN as the representative union in the garage and order the bosses to reinstate Hatem to work. So the prospects are the in early January we are going to have to fight with the bosses to implement this Labour Court decision.”

Adiv told MEE that the successes of WAC-MAAN and other trade unions in Israel/Palestine provide an “alternative model” to what appeared to the outside world to be an increasingly antagonised and irreconcilable situation.

“We say, look, its possible to work together, its possible to be confident in each other, to fight together – because it’s the same fight,” he said, comparing the struggle in the West Bank to the struggles facing the Arab Spring protestors in 2011.

“Its in the spirit of the demands of the Egyptian workers and youth, Syrians, Tunisians, everyone wants democracy, freedom and social justice.”

Though Hatem Abu Ziadeh is still without work, appeals to the labour courts and industrial action by the workers in Zarfaty, – who are determined to have him return to chairing the committee – have left him hopeful of eventually being able to return.

“I hope I will be able to return to work in the settlement – after I get permission from the boss of the garage,” said Abu Ziadeh.

Though the union continues to be active in Zarfaty garage, he said more needed to be done to raise the profile of workers organising in the West Bank.

“I want to see international unions taking a strong stance beside WAC-MAAN, so it can protect Palestinian workers and support them,” he said.

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