WAC-MAAN and Kav LaOved demand to stop automatic dues payments by Palestinian workers to the Histadrut, instead allowing workers to choose to join WAC-MAAN

In an application to the Israeli Payments Authority (PIBA), the workers’ rights organization Kav LaOved (KLO) and WAC-MAAN (WAC) demanded that Palestinian workers be allowed to unionize as they like. […]

In an application to the Israeli Payments Authority (PIBA), the workers’ rights organization Kav LaOved (KLO) and WAC-MAAN (WAC) demanded that Palestinian workers be allowed to unionize as they like. The letter was sent by Adv. Michal Tadjer from KLO and Adv. Aya Bartenstein from WAC on August 13, 2019 to the Head of the Migration Authority, Mr. Shlomo Bar Yosef (PIBA is part of the Migration Authority).

For decades, Palestinians working in Israel have had very limited freedom of association – through the Histadrut Workers‘ Federation alone – whose help to these workers in protecting their rights has been almost nil. Union fees were automatically transferred from the salaries of the Palestinian employees to the Histadrut by PIBA, and the workers had no choice in the matter.

As part of the changes that are currently taking place in the employment of Palestinian workers, PIBA has published a new option for employees: to transfer their dues to another organization called the National Workers‘ Federation (the Likud-affiliated Histadrut Leumit).

But what about the employees’ right to really choose how they want to organize? In June, a group of ten Palestinian construction workers tried to transfer their dues to WAC instead, but that option did not technically exist for the employer. The latter did indeed ask PIBA to transfer the money to WAC, but PIBA told him that there were only two organizations to choose from: the National Federation (Histadrut Leumit) and the New Histadrut. Neither have given any real assistance to the workers, although they have gladly collected their union dues.

Kav LaOved and WAC-MAAN appealed to PIBA to stop favoring the New Histadrut and Histadrut Leumit; that it respect the right of Palestinian workers to unionize where they choose; and that it to allow dues payments to other labor unions, including WAC-MAAN, which is active on behalf of individual workers in the labor courts, as well as in the struggle for safety in the construction industry.

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Concerning the construction industry in particular, it is important to note that WAC’s request to be able to deduct union dues from Palestinians comes in the context of its activities to defend labor rights and safety of these workers. In the last four years, WAC’s teams have visited many construction sites and met hundreds of workers to discuss safety issues. WAC is one of the leading forces in the campaign for safety and accident-reduction in Israel. It defends and supports many Palestinians who were injured on the job.

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אודות Assaf Adiv