Palestinians at Mishor Adumim carpentry unionize with WAC after years of precarious employment

Hayei Adam workers in a meeting with WAC MAAN leaders in Hizma Village 16.5

Workers at the “Hayei Adam” carpentry in Mishor Adumim have decided to end years of exploitative and precarious employment. Most of them have worked at a wage of NIS 140 per nine-hour day (minimum wage is currently NIS 250 per nine-hour day, including transport costs). For years their salary was paid in cash without wage slips, nor transport costs or accident insurance—and without pension plans. The carpentry was also accustomed to dismiss workers without a hearing and without paying them dismissal compensation.

Following several meetings with the workers and after a great majority of them decided to join the union, on May 18, WAC-MAAN National Director Assaf Adiv wrote the carpentry managers. In his letter WAC MAAN specifies that workers had joined the union and delegated WAC MAAN to open negotiations in order to reach a collective agreement on their employment terms and on compensation for years during which they did not receive what was due them by law. Since the 18 workers who signed membership cards comprise much more than one third of the workforce (the carpentry employs around 30 people), WAC became the representative workers’ organization there, and the employer is legally obliged to negotiate with it.

Mohammed Kanaan, one of the leaders of the organizing efforts, said, “Our decision not to wait any longer, and to demand our rights now, stems first of all from the accumulation of frustration and the futile waiting for a change that had been promised again and again. In addition, during the last few months, the employer has begun using a subcontractor, which threatens our jobs. We were pushed into a corner and we decided that we preferred to act together with WAC and ensure our rights.”

In light of these circumstances WAC asked the law firm of Mohammed Dahla to intervene in the first stage. Since the beginning of 2017 Adv. Ahmad Adawi from this firm was in contact with the management threatening to appeal to court in case the carpentry continued to break the law. The carpentry was warned of violations of workers’ rights and of arbitrary dismissals lacking formal procedures. As a result, the carpentry reinstated some of those dismissed and expressed its willingness to issue wage slips too.

Now the union steps in in order to check whether or not “Hayei Adam” managers are ready for an overhaul of the place and can be a partner to an agreement.  It should be noted that in February 2017, WAC signed a groundbreaking collective agreement with the Zarfati Garage in Mishor Adumim – the first such agreement for Palestinian workers in settlement zones in the West Bank. The workers at Hai Adam believe that by joining WAC they too will be able to stop precarious employment and ensure that their rights and dignity are respected.

Translated from Hebrew by Yonatan Preminger

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