Solidarity without Borders: WAC MAAN’s Labor Day in Jerusalem

The audience was treated to some music between the speeches, including a song by Ismail al-Dibs, accompanied by organist Ziad al-Ayoubi. Both are Palestinians from East Jerusalem who volunteered to...

The audience was treated to some music between the speeches, including a song by Ismail al-Dibs, accompanied by organist Ziad al-Ayoubi. Both are Palestinians from East Jerusalem who volunteered to express their support for the Zarfati Garage workers’ struggle.

Ziad Al Ayubi (Organ) and Kobi Hagoel (Percussions)

They sang the well-known song of the Lebanese fishermen “Shidu al-Hima” written in the 70’s, after the murder of the workers leader in Saida, Maarouf Saad, by the Lebanese regime. This song has since become the hymn of workers’ struggles throughout the Arab world. to the youtube. The audience was greatly moved by it, and many stood up to join in. Later, al-Ayoubi was joined by Israeli saxophonist Jess Koren, music teacher at Rosh Ha’ayin, where the workers organized with WAC signed a precedential collective agreement two years ago. Together with drummer Kobi Hagoel, the trio improvised in the spirit of solidarity across walls and borders. (to the youtube)

Hatem Abu Ziadeh – leader of the Zarfaty Garage workers

Hatem Abu Ziadeh, head of the workers’ committee at Zarfati Garage, thanked the workers who stood by him during the struggle to organize with WAC. He reminded the audience that four years ago the Zarfati workers were employed at low wages, with no social benefits. The struggle and their membership in WAC brought real change to their employment situation. Hatem also expressed his hope that other workers in Mishor Adumim would join WAC and unionize.

Wafa Tiara, WAC coordinator for working women, came to the event together with a big group of women agricultural laborers and cleaners from the region of the  “triangle” (a region consists of 16 Arab Towns and Villages inside Israel), and spoke about the struggle to increase employment opportunities for Arab women. “We women will not stand aside. We demand an equal place in all areas of life, and we intend to take this place without asking anyone’s permission,” she said. She also spoke of how precariously employed workers in China bring down wages all over the world as companies including from Israel close production lines and move them to China. This is an example – said Tiara – “why cooperation between workers and unionization strengthens all workers, while the use of weakened workers from far away weaken all workers”.

Wafa Tiara – leader of WAC’s activity with Arab women

Wafa also expressed her solidarity with the Syrians who are being massacred and expelled by Assad while an indifferent world does little, and emphasized that we must identify with the struggle for freedom in other nations in order to shake off our own chains.

Artist Galia Uri spoke about her work in the NGO “Wings” guiding artists with special needs. She said it was a natural step for her and her colleagues to join WAC, firstly because many among them are employed as “service providers” with no social benefits. But also because “WAC works for solidarity in many ways, both inside and outside the Green Line, between women and men, between workers in various fields.

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