The workers ‘revolt

Mishor Adumim industrial zone was over the years a place that succeeded in producing cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. A new player enters now the scene there – a trade […]

Mishor Adumim industrial zone was over the years a place that succeeded in producing cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. A new player enters now the scene there – a trade union called MAAN.

Shilo Fried / Besheva 13.12.2019

The original Hebrew article is here

The industrial areas in Judea and Samaria have long since become a marvel of cooperation and mutual respect between Jews and Arabs, a marvel that even draws tourists from around the world who come to witness it. But there are those who wanted, apparently for political reasons, to upset the delicate balance that had been built over the years between the food factory pavilions and the car halls, between the locksmiths’ houses and the production centers. Thus, a model of coexistence, the Mishor Adumim industrial area became a center of intrigue and tension between workers and employers.

“We had a business of peace,” says Yaron, who owns a ready-made food business in Mishor Adumim. “About twenty workers are employed by us, eighteen of them Arabs from the nearby villages. They all get along very well and work like family. One day all the workers suddenly rose up against me, and the place became hell.” This happened when Yaron’s employees met with members of the MAAN Workers Association.

MAAN is an extreme left-wing organization that operates a workers’ agency and yet works to stop the occupation – according to the website of MAAN, its political identity is not even disguised: In a number of election campaigns they supported a party of Communist Jews and Arabs who advocated the establishment of a single state for the Jews and Arabs.

The organization is headed by Assaf Adiv. Three decades ago, Adiv spent one-and-a-half-year prison sentence on charges of membership in a hostile organization and acting in an illegal association. The group among its members then worked in the services of the leader of the Popular Democratic Front Naif Khawatma.

The organization works simultaneously for both workers’ rights and for the cessation of Israeli control of Judea and Samaria, and it seems that these two goals are used by each other, or perhaps one serves only as an excuse for the other.

Back to Yaron. A few months ago, his employees met with MAAN members, who opened a headquarters near Mishor Adumim. The workers were convinced that they had to band together and fight for their rights and conditions with the employer. “Make no mistake,” says Yaron, “I am not against a trade union, on the contrary – I think it is blessed that they have a framework that can be an address for them and a way to flood problems here in Mishor Adumim. “

“The workers get above the minimum here,” he explains, “they have excellent conditions, which they have no chance of getting like in the Palestinian Authority. One day they decided to revolt. Seeing me running against Facebook posts. They write about me not paying overtime, not giving convalescence pay, claiming I was employed under slavery conditions. I was in shock. The climax was when I was accused of lowering salaries in a completely false way. Then they announced a 3 days of sudden shutdown, not for the sake of workers rights but in order to stand against us and agitate the workers. There has been a shocking atmosphere here between us and the workers, between Jews and Arabs, false allegations are made against us endlessly.”

It is no coincidence that

Anyone who enters MAAN’s website or follows the reports that the organization publishes to the media, will find that its people have chosen Mishor Adumim as a center of action. Except for a few publications – almost all the articles on the site deal with events and labor disputes in the same area, and business owners feel that this is not a coincidence. Yaron is not the only one; Nearly a hundred businesses in Mishor Adumim are dealing with the phenomenon – repeated allegations, extortion, and brutal association of workers with no real desire to reach a serious dialogue with employers.

M., the manager of a workshop near Yaron’s business, also fell victim to the organization’s problematic conduct. “Their pattern of activity is on the criminal frontier,” he says. “Their goal is to paralyze the business. They come to a small place with ten workers and try to squeeze something more for the workers each time. We had one year with less income, and we decided to reduce activity and dismiss four workers. They dragged us to court, and the situation is that we pay full salary for four people with whom we have nothing to do. “

The first contacts with the employees, according to M., are secretly made by the organization’s representatives. To the management of the factory they usually introduce themselves only after the workers have signed their membership in the association. “No one normally comes to talk like humans, but makes secret connections with the workers. They wait for them at a crossroads on the way from work, sign them to the union without really understanding what they are signing, and from there they are in their hands in threats and intimidation. They get in contact with the workers behind our backs as employers and then one bright day all the workers tell you they cannot get to work, each with his own problem – one did not receive a payslip, the other has no pension, and an uprising begins. “

Kosher but stinking

The Union itself does not hide the connection between concerns for workers and the struggle against the settlements. At one of the workers’ rallies, Assaf Adiv told Mishor Adumim workers: “When you join for, you guarantee yourself a force that will support the attainment of your rights, but at the same time you take an active  step and participate in building a force that fights against racism and occupation.”

It should be noted that Mishor Adumim is located at a strategic point, which divides the territories under Arab control, thus preventing the spread of the Arab localities in the area into one bloc. This makes it difficult for the PA to create territorial continuity between built-up areas.

One of the obstacles in dealing with MAAN, which is increasingly affecting more and more businesses in Mishor Adumim, is the nature of the organization’s conduct. This spread cannot be stopped by any legal tool. Lawyer Yaron Eliram, who represents some of the businesses affected by the organization’s activities, admits that there is no way to stop MAAN, although he also shares the view that this is an organization that aims to harm employers and damage the delicate fabric of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Adv. Eliram says: “Obviously, workers’conditions must not be harmed and discrimination and harm must not be created, but we suggest that workers organizations such as MAAN engage in bullying that ultimately harms the workers themselves “. Adv.  Eliram adds that it is necessary to examine in depth what are the sources of MAAN’s funding and what are the motives of the chairman of the organization, that his past actions may indicate the nature of the organization and its goals. They are ‘Kosher but stinking’. Courts allow them to organize workers, but we need to check what and who is behind it. “

MAAN responded:  For more than a decade of MAAN activity in the Israeli enclave areas in the West Bank, we have repeatedly encountered Palestinian Authority workers who are employed at low wages and working conditions that do not comply with the law. It is clear that Employers of these workers have an interest to prevent the workers from organizing in order to perpetuate the situation. Unfortunately, these same employers often choose to discredit the organization in order to obscure the refusal to act in accordance with the law.

“Only recently did the Jerusalem Regional Labor Court reject the claim that MAAN is a political organization and not a trade union. The court was required to address the issue due to an allegation made by an employer who refused to recognize that his employees chose MAAN as their union, and even tried to fire some of the union leaders

The claim that MAAN is quick to initiate workers’ strikes is simply not true. MAAN do initiate a strike when employers refust to recognize the right of the workers to organize. MAAN announced a strike for this reason in Mishor Adumim and Atarot and also in Yehuda Reshatot company in Ashdod and in the Music Center in Rosh Ha’ayin. MAAN publishes news of the strikes on a regular basis, regardless of the geographical location of the factory. “

אודות Wac-Maan