The Salit Strike enters its 2nd Month: Solidarity with the Palestinian Workers Grows

On Friday July 8, at 9 a.m., a delegation from the quarry management came to the protest tent at the entrance to the Salit Quarries premises, bringing envelopes containing checks for the workers’ June wages. According to Israeli law, monthly wages must be paid by the 9th day of the following month. The quarry management, which for 24 days has refused to negotiate with the Workers Advice Center (WAC-Ma’an), initially gave the impression that it would meet its legal obligations and pay wages in time. Because the workers have been striking since June 16, these wages are from the first part of June. The withholding of wages is liable to result in fines and other penalties for the management.

he management is stubborn and provocative, but the workers are resolute and determined to reach an agreement

Update no. 2, including:

a.Description of confrontation with the management; legal and organizational aspects

b.List of visits and letters we received expressing solidarity

c.Solidarity must continue

d.Links to press and You Tube.

A.Withholding wages in the most despicable way

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On Friday July 8, at 9 a.m., a delegation from the quarry management came to the protest tent at the entrance to the Salit Quarries premises, bringing envelopes containing checks for the workers’ June wages. According to Israeli law, monthly wages must be paid by the 9th day of the following month. The quarry management, which for 24 days has refused to negotiate with the Workers Advice Center (WAC-Ma’an), initially gave the impression that it would meet its legal obligations and pay wages in time. Because the workers have been striking since June 16, these wages are from the first part of June. The withholding of wages is liable to result in fines and other penalties for the management.

But when the Palestinian workers from the West Bank opened the envelopes, they realized this was just another of the management’s underhand maneuvers. The checks were printed with the words “payable to the payee only,” meaning the checks had to be paid into a personal bank account and could not be exchanged for cash. Since most of the Palestinian workers have no personal bank account, this meant they had no way of cashing the checks.

In response to this provocation, the workers decided to return the envelopes to the quarry offices and demand that they be issued with cashable checks, as had been the norm during the 28 years of the quarry’s existence. It should be noted that some 30 workers from the Palestinian Authority usually receive wages in cash or cashable checks. They had never received a “payee only” check. The fact that precisely now, during the strike, the management decided to “pay” them in this way shows it is trying to provoke.

On Sunday July 10, WAC’s legal consultant Attorney Aya Barnstein sent a strongly-worded letter to the quarry management, demanding that the workers’ wages be paid immediately. If the management did not do so, WAC would turn to the labor courts and sue for holdover of pay as well as for an injunction against attempts to break a legal strike.

Finally on Monday, July 11, the management complied and gave the workers checks they can cash.

B.Visits and letters expressing solidarity with the striking Salit workers

During the last week, a large number of delegations visited the protesting workers, and a number of letters of support from individuals and unions were received.

July 7: A visit by a number of activists from the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement in Jerusalem who have been struggling for two years against the Judaization of the Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem

July 5: A visit by Attorney Castro Daoud, representative of the Organization for Democracy and Workers Rights in Ramallah (DWRC), and a letter of support from the chairperson of the organization, Hassan Barghouti

Visit from poets Efrat Mishori (July 8) and Shira Carmel (July 5)

July 8: A visit by WAC activists from the Jerusalem branch including Abd al-Karim Sharif, one of the archeological dig workers employed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and organized with WAC

June 29: A visit from Galilee including a delegation from Kufr Manda which included a group of women active at the Fair Trade Sindyanna of Galilee Visitors Center

July 6: Greeting of solidarity were sent in the name of 54,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, by Denis Lemelin, National President. The postal workers are currently engaged themselves in a major union dispute with their management.

July 11: A visit of from Sabina Breveglieri and Mario Paolini from the Italian foundation NEXUS, which is part of the large Italian union federation CGIL.

Letter expressing solidarity and support from Bob Crow, secretary-general of the UK’s transport union RMT

Letter of support and article in internal newspaper of the international relations department of the Dutch union FNV

Extensive publicity on the website of Spain’s largest union CCOO

Letter of support from the workers and the leadership of the independent American electricity workers union, UE. Signed by: Bruce J. Klipple (General secretary Treasurer), John H. Hovis, Jr (General President), Robert B. Kingsley (Director of Organization)

Letter of support from the Belgian union support organization, FOS, and from various branches of the Belgian socialist union, ABBV.

To summarize –

WAC continues in its public and media campaign to garner support for the Salit Quarry workers in their strike. The campaign has created extensive media buzz in both established media and in social networks, including two particularly supportive articles in Haaretz on 23.6 and in Zman Yerushalayim 0n 26.6, A reporter from TV’s Channel 2 (considered Israel’s leading channel) put together an item on the premises and interviewed some of the workers and WAC representatives. The item was broadcasted On July 11.

WAC is at the height of a campaign to raise funds for the workers. The organization aims to raise at least NIS 50,000 (10,000 euros), and to divide the funds equally among the workers, in consultation with the workers committee. As a young union, WAC still has no strike fund, and we intend to grant the funds as a loan to the workers, to be paid back gradually when the strike comes to an end. The idea is to form the basis for a strike fund for a renewed strike at Salit or for future strikes elsewhere.

Many activists in Israel have also answered the call for funds, some contributing hundreds of shekels. We call on activists and unions who realize the importance of this strike to contribute to its success.

אודות Wac-Maan