Crane operators' groundbreaking special collective agreement signed in Israel

On October 14, for the first time, the Construction and Wood Workers Union and the Crane Operators' Organization signed special collective agreements with the management of the M.A. Kogan and Crane Operators of Ocean LTD. The agreements deal with workforce services in the field of crane operation.

The special collective agreement, signed with each of the companies separately, adds to the sectorial agreement conditions and the extension order that were signed in the sector in 2017. The agreement then increased the minimum wage of NIS 52 (approximately USD 15.33) per hour (and an effort increment of NIS 3.5 (approximately USD 1.03)), a training fund, and improved physical conditions for crane operators were set.

Following the agreements in each company, an employees' committee will be established to organize additional welfare activities in coordination with the company. The employees' committee will receive 0.8% of each worker's salary, half of which will be paid by the worker and half of which will be at the employer's expense.

The special agreements framework determined that the company commits sending its workers at least once a year to a paid safety training day. It was also determined that the company will hold a welfare event for its workers at least once a year at its expense.

The companies' crane operators will be eligible to participate in the activities of the Fund for Encouragement and Development of the Construction Industry in Israel, including welfare events, sports and team building days, various professional training including in the field of safety as well as receiving scholarships for workers' children and more.

Against the backdrop of the agreement, Itzhak Moyal, Chairman of the Construction and Wood Workers Union, said: "This is another important step on the way to establishing and regulating the profession of the crane operator and the construction industry in general."

Accountant Eddie Ben Lish, Director-General of the Crane Operators Employers Association in Israel, said: "When the workers see companies that work in an orderly fashion, they will prefer to join them and the companies will become stronger. A special agreement is signed directly between the company, the Histadrut, and the employees' committee. Companies who want to take care of their workers' welfare and to promote various areas, beyond the general agreements in the industry, can sign such an agreement."

Dan Varshevski, the Chairman of the National Employees' Committee of Crane Operators, said that the signing of the agreements now is the ripening of a process that began already in 2018 with several companies, and in the near future, agreements are expected to be signed in other 

companies. "We will continue to work to improve the crane operators' conditions and sign factory agreements. From every company in which an agreement will be signed, a representative will also be appointed to the National Employees' Committee of the Crane Operators," he said.

"We are proud to be the first company to sign a special collective agreement for its workers," Michael Kogan, owner of M.A. Kogan, said. "The agreement expresses the company's high level of importance and obligation to regulating the industry, improving the safety, the crane operators' training, and their working conditions." 

Gershon Ram, Director-General of Okyanus Crane Operators of Ocean LTD, added, "We greatly welcome the collective agreement and what has been achieved for the workers. We wish and work for a cleaner and safer industry."

Moyal and Varshevski thanked the owner of the M.A Kogan company, Michael Kogan, and the owner of the Crane Operators of Ocean company, Gershon Ram. They also thanked the Director-General of the Association of Manpower Companies in the Crane Operation Industry, Eddie Ben Lish, the Economics Division staff in the Histadrut, headed by Shai Biran, the Legal Bureau of the Trade Union Division in the Histadrut.

In December 2018, following the Histadrut's efforts to regulate the industry, a law was passed, which determined that tower crane operators employed through manpower companies would only be possible through designated companies engaged in this field exclusively. The law came into force in June 2019 and resulted in establishing the Crane Operators Employers Association in Israel.

(published on October 14 in the Histadrut's online newsletter Davar in the article "A historic achievement in the field of the crane operation in Israel" - by Nitzan Zvi Cohen)