shows progress in organizing Jewish and Arab workers
The independent trade union MAAN (formerly known in English as WAC) held its annual General Assembly in Tel Aviv on June 15, 2013. The hall was packed with Jews and Arabs, workers from the factories and the fields, as well as college teachers. The 81 delegates represented workers’ committees and MAAN’s branches. They included art teachers from Musrara College, the Minshar Art College, the School for Visual Theatre, the Musical Center (Rosh ha-Ayn), and the Sapir Technological College (Sderot); there were factory workers from Jana Beverage (Upper Nazareth) and Levy Wood and Metal (Mishor Adumim in the West Bank); there were archaeological workers from East Jerusalem, for whom MAAN has obtained direct employment with the Israel Antiquities Authority; there were female Arab agricultural workers; there were activists and volunteers.
The Hebrew speeches were simultaneously translated into Arabic, the Arabic into Hebrew. For three hours there was a feeling of solidarity between Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs, women and men, old and young, white-collar and manual laborers. The Assembly was a unique event in this deeply polarized country.
In the past year, MAAN has made significant steps in its effort to become a recognized union that plays a central role in Israel’s labor scene. It signed a second collective agreement at Musrara School of Art and new collective agreements at the School for Visual Theatre and the Halonot Association. In addition, it is conducting advanced negotiations toward signing with the Minshar Art School and Jana Beverage. At Levy Wood and Metal and at the Music Center in Rosh ha-Ayn, the struggle for collective negotiation is still in its infancy. In several other work places organizing is in its initial stages.
There was an additional important achievement this year when the National Labor Court ruled that the Antiquities Authority must implement Paragraph 12a of the Manpower Agencies Law, which orders that any manpower-agency worker employed 9 months at a firm, whether government or private, must become a direct employee of that firm. As a result, 21 workers unionized with MAAN have been directly employed. An additional group from East Jerusalem, who are represented by MAAN, await implementation of this judgment.
Elections of leadership
The AGA elected a new Board of 5 of the Union headed by Nir Nader and the memebership of Munir Qawar, Zipora Friedman, Ido Mehl and Muna Abu Esba.
It also elected a National Committee to lead the Trade Union activity (this body approves of disputes, strikes and collective agreements) headed by Assaf Adiv and with a membership of Asma Aghbarieh Zahalka, Dani Ben Simhoun, Erez Wagner, Hanan Zouabi, Wafa Tayara, Gaston Zvi Izkovitz, Nir Nader.
Winds of change are blowing in the region
“This year’s annual General Assembly (AGA) is a landmark, because winds of change and revolution are undermining the old order in the region, with demands for democracy and social justice. What unites those gathered here is the belief in our ability to achieve fundamental change, connecting with our sisters and brothers in Istanbul, Damascus, Cairo and Ramallah, becoming part of the emerging region.” These were the opening words of Assaf Adiv, MAAN’s National Coordinator.