WAC-MAAN Mayday rally: Workers for human rights

  WAC-MAAN’s Mayday rally took place in the Avraham Hostel in Tel Aviv under the banner, “Workers for Human Rights.” The rally focused on human-rights violations within Israel and worldwide. […]

 

WAC-MAAN’s Mayday rally took place in the Avraham Hostel in Tel Aviv under the banner, “Workers for Human Rights.” The rally focused on human-rights violations within Israel and worldwide. WAC-MAAN called on trade unions, social organisations and human rights associations to express solidarity, in order to improve workers’ standing and protect the rights of organisations struggling for human dignity and freedom. WAC-MAAN insists that solidarity should cut across national, religious and racial lines, presenting a democratic and equitable alternative to the racist–nationalistic–fundamentalist Ultra-Right, wherever it is. The rally chairperson was Wafa Tayara, who manages WAC-MAAN’s Baka El-Gharbia office.

Wafa Tayara, WAC-MAAN’s Baka El-Gharbia office maneger.

WAC-MAAN director, Assaf Adiv, warned of the Israeli government’s eagerness to enter a war with Iran. He also protested the killings taking place in Gaza, as well as the attacks against human rights organisations and the courts. He stressed the importance of cooperation in resisting these trends. Adiv noted WAC-MAAN’s solidarity with other democratic movements in Syria, Iran and Egypt. He made clear that WAC-MAAN opposes both the ruthless dictatorships of Syrian dictator Assad and Egyptian President Sisi, but also the Jihadist Sunni and Shiite movements, all of whom hold extremist, uncompromising agendas.

Assaf Adiv – WAC-MAAN director.

WAC-MAAN is wholly committed to the struggle against discrimination and oppression, wherever they may be. Its work closely combines workers’ rights, human rights and solidarity. This was emphasised at the rally by the diverse backgrounds of those present: representatives from ‘Btselem’; Arab women working in agriculture, care and cleaning; Palestinian workers from the West Bank; Jewish and Arab artists and musicians.

Amit Gilutz, of the Btselem Workers’ Committee, which recently joined WAC-MAAN, noted that WAC-MAAN was their natural choice for a union, with its unique combination of Israeli and Palestinian members, white and blue collar workers. ‘When we unionise,’ he said, ‘we strengthen the connections between us; but we need a Union that understands the struggle against the Occupation which is at the very heart of Btselem’s work. Like us, WAC-MAAN is part of the resistance against the Occupation, and so it became our choice. We are confident of reaching a collective agreement with our management very soon.

Amit Gilutz – Btselem Workers’ Committee,

Yoav Gal Tamir, of WAC-MAAN’s Jerusalem office, described the impossible reality of Jerusalem: over 300,000 Palestinian residents lack basic rights, living in poverty without basic infrastructure. He made clear that the US embassy move to Jerusalem will not change the fact that the city is divided, a division compounded by daily conflict and hatred. He described how, by contrast,  WAC-MAAN’s daily work with Palestinian unemployed workers in East Jerusalem is a base for human respect and equality, hence the basis for future coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Yoav Gal Tamir – WAC-MAAN’s Jerusalem office

Nili Gafnan, an artist in Hakaron (Train) Theatre, whose employees have recently joined WAC-MAAN, enchanted the audience with a story while moving imperceptibly between Hebrew and Arabic. She said this Mayday rally has illustrated that WAC-MAAN and Hakaron artists are a good fit for each other.

Nili Gafnan- Hakaron (Train) Theatre

Kobi Hagoel, a music teacher in Rosh Haayin Conservatory, noted WAC-MAAN’s ability to work in every sector and with every group. He praised WAC-MAAN’s thoughtful, individualised, consultative manner, and the way it constantly seeks to employ the most appropriate approach. In particular, unlike other union federations, WAC-MAAN avoids a centralist stance and taking unilateral decisions. Hagoel also described the difficulties faced by many music teachers all over the country, and called on them to also organise and join WAC-MAAN.

Kobi Hagoel – Rosh Haayin Conservatory

Hatem Abu Ziadeh, chairman of the Workers Committee in Zarfati Garage, spoke on behalf of many Palestinian WAC-MAAN members who work in West Bank settlements. He talked about the experience of Zarfati Garage workers, and of their achievements in reaching a hard-earned collective agreement. He also emphasised that WAC-MAAN is the natural point of reference for Palestinians working in West Bank Israeli businesses.

Hatem Abu Ziadeh – chairman of the Workers Committee in Zarfati Garage

France Libba Nadav, an artist and photography teacher at Musrarah Art School in Jerusalem, described the unique relationships which have emerged at her school between teachers who have been organised by WAC-MAAN for a while and technical staff who have only just recently joined their collective agreement.

France Libba Nadav -Musrarah Art School in Jerusalem

Amani Ka’adan, Coordinator at WAC-MAAN’s Baka El Gharbia office, talked about the ‘Women and Work’ project, which aims to help women find non-casual employment as agricultural workers, cleaners and personal carers.

Amani Ka’adan – Coordinator at WAC-MAAN’s Baka El Gharbia office

Music was provided by saxophonist Jess Koren and percussionist Kobi Hagoel, both WAC-MAAN members and teachers at Rosh Haayin Conservatory. Pianist-composer Yossi Mar Chaim also played. Muhamad Qawasma, a construction worker from Jerusalem, read a poem accompanied on the piano by Jerusalem composer Ziad Al Ayubi.

 

 

Translated from the Hebrew by Yaara Gregory

אודות Wac-Maan