On Wednesday 9th September Movilei Dror, one of biggest Road Haulage Companies in Israel, has announced that it will from now on recognise WAC-MAAN as the legitimate representative union for its drivers, and will be willing to enter negotiations with the union.
This followed a lengthy and difficult process which included a declaration of labour dispute, a threat of strike action, after the company made several failed attempts to stop the drivers organising. WAC-MAAN and the lorry drivers’ Action Committee (AC) have welcomed the announcement, and have declared the dispute and the strike cancelled. The first meeting between the two sides will take place on Thursday 17th September in the central headquarters of the company in Caesarea Industrial Zone. In addition to representatives of WAC MAAN and the drivers of the AC the union delegation will include Adv. Amir Basha and Moran Svorai.
The day after the company recognised WAC-MAAN as its workers’ representative, on 10th September, a gathering of drivers took place in Ashdod, organised by the drivers’ Action Committee. Present in the gathering were WAC MAAN National Director, Assaf Adiv and lawyer Moran Svorai. AC leaders Tsakhi Elkarif and Shimshon Karilker congratulated the drivers on their achievement and expressed their thanks and appreciation to WAC-MAAN. They made clear their determination to continue with their demands, in the centre of which is wage correction in accordance with the Expansion Order, and compensation for past failures to provide proper pay and working conditions. At present no driver, however experienced, earns more than NIS 6,500 (70% of the average salary in Israel), despite often working over twelve hour days. There is no overtime pay, expenses are nominal and Bonus payments (called Premia) are made at random and calculated in an arbitrary way without explanation.
Union director, Assaf Adiv, praised the drivers, led by members of the AC, for standing firm in the face of attempts to deter them, and for being resolute in their demands for their rights. He added that it was remarkable that the drivers rejected the attempt to smear the union as “a union of Arabs” and said: “yes, WAC MAAN is proud to be a union for everybody. We represent Arab and Jewish workers on an equal basis and we reject the notion that Arabs are somewhat less than Jews. We are all human beings in the end” he said.
On the stage of the struggle WAC MAAN director said: “We are entering a negotiation process with the management, and we are doing this with a positive attitude. We believe we can reach a collective agreement that will secure drivers’ rights and compensate them for past wrongs. Having said that, should it become clear that the management remains unmoved by the drivers’ demands, we will not hesitate to re-establish a workplace dispute and consider strike action.’
Lawyer Moran Svorai explained the process that starts now and told the drivers that they should progress with gradual achievements that will improve their situation. She made clear that any agreement with the company will be a collective one, and will be based on the expansion order in the road haulage sector. At the same time, the agreement will included important additional articles that are specific for the Movilei Dror drivers and most importantly will enable the union to get a control and accurate reports on the calculation of the Premia.
Translation: Yaara Lahav – Gregory