May Day 2014 in Tel Aviv – fighting for workers’ rights and dignity in Hebrew and Arabic

Bialik Square, at the heart of Tel Aviv, has never witnessed such an event: a mass meeting, assembled by the workers of Bialik Center, organized by the independent Trade Union Center WAC-MAAN, celebrating May Day.

The workers of Bialik Center hosted a unique event in Tel Aviv on May Day

Bialik Square, at the heart of Tel Aviv, has never witnessed such an event: a mass meeting, assembled by the workers of Bialik Center, organized by the independent Trade Union Center WAC-MAAN, celebrating May Day.

One by one the speakers mounted the platform –a diversified representation of newly organized workers groups representatives, workers organizations, public representatives and artists – each contributing to a mosaic of workers’ solidarity.

The host, Inon Yanai, member of the Bialik Center Workers Committee, as well as other speakers among the workers, set the tone, demanding not to let the one percent of tycoons live at the expense of us all. A determined declaration rose from the podium against exploitative employment methods that drive more and more Jewish and Arab workers into insecurity.

At the same time, the organizers stressed the resolve not to ignore the existence of occupation and national discrimination, and to give suitable and serious expression to groups of Arab workers organized under the framework of WAC-MAAN. The delegate of “Zarfati” Garage workers committee, Hatem Abu Ziade, who came with his friends from the occupied West Bank after the union managed to get them entrance permits, told the gathering about their struggle, guided by WAC-MAAN, to get decent working conditions. Waffa Tiara, who represented the Arab women agricultural workers, tugged at the audience’s heart strings by her and her friends’ identification with the struggle of the Bialik Center workers – all Jewish.

Public representatives of the Tel Aviv City Council, both from ‘Meretz’ (Mikey Gitzin and Gabi Lasski) and from ‘Ir Lekulanu’ (Shelly Dvir), expressed in their words and presence the overwhelming public sympathy attained by the Bialik Center workers, who demand to be recognized as municipality workers and stop the outrage of fictive employment as independent contractors.

Nir Nader, coordinator of the WAC-MAAN Tel Aviv branch, who has been accompanying the struggle of the Bialik Center workers for months, set the tone by appealing for a struggle against the capitalistic municipality of Tel Aviv, which is managed in favor of a small minority. Nader emphasized the broad and inclusive perception of the union, which draws optimism from the spirit of change in the Arab world, with its aspirations for freedom and democracy. He extolled the Bialik Center workers for demonstrating their determination to attain their rights.

Among the artists performing:

Directors Doron Zabari and Joshua Sobol; singers Hemi Rodner, Yaheli Sobol, Aya Korem and Gabi Berlin; poets Noa Bentor, Hagit Grossman, Noam Partom, Tal Nitzan and Daniel Baumgarten.

Delegates of worker organizations:

Ruti Amano (Bialik Center), Tami Farber (Social workers), Waffa Tiara (Arab agricultural workers), Hatem Abu Ziade (Zarfati Garage), Orit Zolotov-Guri (Rosh Haayin music teachers), Yasser Abu Arisha (Leumi-Card), Guy Cohen (Subtitle translators).

Public Representatives:

Nir Nader (WAC/MAAN), Mickey Gitzin and Gabi Lasski (City council on behalf of Meretz) and Shelly Dvir (City council opposition on behalf of Ir Lekulanu).

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