A new petition filed against attempts by Zarfaty to get rid of the union

<p>On Monday, August 25, WAC MAAN lawyer Adv. Aya Bartenstein filed an additional petition in the Jerusalem Regional Labour Court against Zarfaty Garage management’s attempt to get the union out of the workplace.</p>

Palestinian workers in Zarfaty Garage fighting for union recognition 

On Monday, August 25, WAC MAAN lawyer Adv. Aya Bartenstein filed an additional petition in the Jerusalem Regional Labour Court against Zarfaty Garage management’s attempt to get the union out of the workplace. The aim of the new petition is to get the Court to stop the Garage’s bosses’ maneuvers and oblige them to sit at the negotiating table with the union. On a parallel path, the union continues the quest to cancel the ban on the workers’ leader, Mr. Hatem Abu Ziadeh. At the same time, the international campaign to support WAC MAAN and help it overcome the costs of this double legal fight gained steam when unions from Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, UK and many others committed themselves to support this important struggle.

zarfaty workers after strike 27-7

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The second stage of the struggle comes after the bosses of the Zarfaty Garage invented the security risk pretense in order to get rid of Hatem Abu Ziadeh, the chairperson of the workers’ committee (see later our fight to reverse this). Now they have moved to attack the union directly with the aim to get rid of WAC MAAN altogether.

The Garage management’s effort in the last 2 weeks was concentrated on separating the workers from WAC MAAN by inviting two members of the elected workers’ committee to a meeting without the representatives of the union. In the two meetings that were held on August 7 and 18 the management proposed to give the workers a concession – recognizing for the first time the professional level of each worker and then raising salaries of those who are more experienced. It is this point on the negotiation table that stopped the agreement in June 2014 – now the bosses want to give it to workers as a prize for them leaving the union and accepting the new framework. Moreover, on Wednesday, August 20, they appealed to the Labour Court asking it to cancel the case altogether as negotiations with the workers were supposedly resumed and the workers’ leader was barred by the police.

There are three problems with the Garage management’s initiation of these meetings:

First, it was against the will of the workers, who refuse to agree on anything without their union, knowing that after 25 years of exploitation and disregard for their rights the last thing they want to do is to trust this employer and give up the support and experience and knowledge the union provides.

Second – it is illegal for an employer in Israel to bypass the union that gained a status of recognized representative union in the work place, and any attempt to push workers to leave the union is considered an offence and might lead to fines of up to NIS 200,000 in Labour Court.

Third – in the Labour Court session held in this case on July 27 it was agreed that the two sides (Zarfaty Garage and WAC MAAN) would hold a meeting to continue the negotiations not later than 10 days after the day Zarfaty Manager, Mr. Moris Zarfaty, would be released from his military service. As the Zarfaty lawyer, Adv. Aliran Ram, reported to court that Mr. Moris Zarfaty’s release from service happened on August 7, they actually admitted in their request from the court that they were breaching the agreement reached on July 27.

In addition, the decision of the Israeli Police to ban the Chair of the workers’ committee from his work place, based on false security accusation, was challenged by his lawyer, Adv. Michal Pomrantz, who works for the prominent human rights law firm led by Adv. Smadar Ben Natan. The permit to enter the settlement industrial zone was taken from Mr. Abu Ziadeh by the Police after the employer filed a complaint against him. Adv. Pomerantz wrote to the legal advisor to the Police about the ban on the permit and learned from her that it was the Civil Administration (CA) Employment Officer who ordered the ban on Mr. Abu Ziadeh. However, when Adv. Pomerantz approached the CA officer his office said it had not banned Mr. Abu Ziadeh and sent the matter on to the Police.

Following this, Adv. Pomarentz wrote a letter to the Israeli Attorney General explaining the circumstances of the case and the conflicting messages of the Police and the CA. This letter, dated August 13, serves as the last step before the appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice. Unless a positive answer is given in the next few days, WAC MAAN will file a petition to the Supreme Court on behalf of Mr. Hatem Abu Ziadeh.

אודות Wac-Maan