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Employer turns Palestinian union organizer into a ‘security threat’

Zarfati also quotes parts of the ruling in a previous round of legal proceedings that were nullified by the court, and accuses Ma’an of being an illegitimate, political workers’ association...

Zarfati also quotes parts of the ruling in a previous round of legal proceedings that were nullified by the court, and accuses Ma’an of being an illegitimate, political workers’ association — arguments that had already been rejected by the Israeli Labor Court, and thus cannot be accepted by the District Court.

Even if the all the employer’s claims are baseless, and even if it is not unfounded to assume that Abu Ziadeh will eventually return to work — and even if he receives retroactive payment — the employer still won. He won by sending a message to all the workers, that anyone who tries to organize them will pay a high price, lose his livelihood and will barely be able to feed his children. The employer won by gaining over a year and a half of quiet, without Abu Ziadeh or organized workers.

The response to these situations must be simple: over the past few years, court rulings have created legal protections for the first stages of unionizing prior to signing a collective agreement. Furthermore it was established that if one of the members is fired during the organizing stage, the employer must prove that the dismissal was legal, and the court tends to side with the workers in these cases.

The courts must take this one step further: they must establish that a worker must be able to return to work during legal proceedings. If the assumption is that the worker was illegally fired, the dismissal must temporarily be rescinded in order to protect both the worker in question as well as the union, at least until the employer can prove otherwise.

This should have been the case with Hatem Abu Ziadeh, the pioneer of Palestinian unionizing in the settlement industrial zones. At the very least, the court must deliver a verdict and let him return to work.

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