Israeli workers oppose move to limit their right to strike

Histadrut, Israel’s General Federation of Labour, is up in arms in opposing a legislative move to restrict the right of workers to mount strike actions. 

It was reported that lawmaker Simcha Rothman, chair of the Knesset’s Constitution Law and Justice Committee, filed a propose legislation that aims to prevent a trade union to launch a strike in solidarity with a cause that does not directly impact its members’ line of work. This would prevent trade unions such as Histadrut to join nationwide protests on various issues. 

The bill covers the right to strike of workers in the country’s national electricity, water, ports, public transportation and health fields, as well as the Israeli Stock Exchange and the Bank of Israel.

Histadrut Chair Arnon Bar-David said the proposed bill wants to strip trade unions and workers of one of their most powerful tools that protect and advance labour rights. 

“It will not happen. This proposal is another attempt by extremist elements to weaken the status of workers in the State of Israel and to erode one of the fundamental social-economic rights of democracy. Exercising the right to strike is one of the main tools to protect the most vulnerable populations in the economy, and I will not allow any party to harm the workers. I knew how to stand up to this absurd threat in the past, and I propose not to try us this time,” Bar-David said. 

The proposal is similar with the plan of the British government to restrict industrial action by trade unions under the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) bill. Trade unionists called the proposed legislation “draconian, vowing to fight them "every step of the way". It is part of the many issues that have captured public attention after a massive strike wave swept across Europe since last week hitting France, The United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and Greece.

The Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI) has thrown its full support to the various workers’ strikes gripping Europe. It called on governments and employers to listen and heed the workers’ legitimate demands, and sit down with trade unions to come up with concrete policies and solutions to address labour woes.