Haifa Labor Court Judge Avital Rimon-Kaplan ruled on March 7 that the haulage firm Movilei Dror must negotiate with the workers’ organization WAC-Maan, and said the firm must not negotiate with any other party. The decision came in response to a case WAC-Maan submitted against Movilei Dror after the firm stopped negotiations about a month ago and declared it would no longer recognize WAC-Maan as the representative of the firm’s drivers. The court’s decision prepares the ground for continued negotiations towards a collective agreement.
On February 23, WAC-Maan had asked the court to confirm its status as the representative union of the firm’s drivers, and oblige Movilei Dror to return to the negotiating table. WAC-Maan also asked the court to prevent the firm from negotiating with any other party. In addition the petition demanded that the company pay up to NIS 200,000 (app US$ 50000) for breaching the law.
The court accepted WAC-Maan’s claims entirely. It noted that there was no legal basis to the firm’s claim that WAC-Maan had lost its representative status, that there was no other organization claiming representative status at Movilei Dror, and therefore the request of several drivers to the firm to cancel WAC-Maan’s status have no legal validity and need not be considered.
The court also noted that according to case law, if two organizations are competing for representative status then the organization currently holding that status is protected during the initial stage of organizing. This is in order to encourage collective labor relations and prevent the organization’s status from being undermined during the initial negotiations. In the case of Movilei Dror, no other organization was claiming representative status, therefore there was no basis to the firm’s claim that WAC-Maan had lost its representative status.
The judge recommended that Movilei Dror accept the decision and put an end to the legal proceedings, and thus avoid the possibility of fines and claims that it is preventing unionizing. So far the firm has rejected the judge’s recommendation, and an additional hearing is scheduled for May 2. This hearing does not undermine the decision that Movilei Dror must immediately restart negotiations with WAC-Maan.
Attorneys Moran Savorai and Amir Basha represented WAC-Maan and the drivers. Movilei Dror was represented by Attorney Galia Kleinman.
Background: On January 31, the day of a scheduled meeting between WAC-Maan and Movilei Dror and after four months of intensive negotiations between them, the firm unilaterally declared it was cancelling the meeting and stopping negotiations. It said that in light of drivers telling the firm that they wished to cancel their membership in WAC-Maan, it sees itself as no longer obliged to negotiate with the workers’ organization, which, it said, was no longer representative. WAC-Maan then declared a labour dispute on February 3, held a one-day strike on the 18th of February, and turned to the labor court.
Translated by Jonathan Preminger