Millions of Israelis were outraged by the political strike called by the Histadrut labor union on Monday “in protest of the government’s judicial reform plan.”
A politically motivated nationwide strike that shuts down the Israeli economy sets quite a dangerous precedent. According to a Ynet report, Monday’s strike cost the Israeli economy about NIS 2.5 billion. The sum doesn’t include the emotional cost of those affected by the strike of the healthcare system. One Israeli cancer patient wrote an emotional post on Facebook about an important test that he scheduled months earlier that was canceled during the strike.
Additionally, the Israel Hotel Association reported a significant number of cancellations of reservations in Israel’s hotels. At Ben-Gurion Airport, tens of thousands of passengers were forced to wait for hours after their flights were canceled or delayed, and a number of airlines canceled their flights to Israel – leaving Israeli citizens, tourists and business travelers stranded at international airports.
Was the strike even legal? Not according to the chairman of the Constitution Committee MK Simcha Rothman, who is a lawyer by profession. Rothman told Radio 103FM on Tuesday that the strike was definitely illegal and a violation of workers’ rights, noting that many Histadrut members voted for the current government and support the judicial reform.
Yitzchak Bam, a lawyer for the Lavi civil rights organization, wrote an open letter on Monday stating that the strike on Monday “is illegal according to the ruling of the Supreme Court” and calling on the Finance and Labor ministers to withhold pay from employees who took a vacation day. According to law, employees who take a vacation day during a legal strike must receive their wages but according to Bam, Monday’s strike did not meet the legal criteria for labor disputes, which must be declared to employers at least 15 days prior to the strike. Additionally, a strike must be called against a specific employer.
The Shas party was also outraged by the strike and decided to “take revenge” on the Histadrut in a different way.
Shas MK Moshe Arbel, who is a lawyer by profession, submitted a bill to reduce payments of membership fees to the Histadrut by 50%. Every person who works in a company or public organization under the Histadrut must pay membership fees, and now, if the law passes, the Histadrut will lose 50% of its income.
“The bill seeks to set a maximum ceiling for the amount of money allowed to be collected by union organizations of various kinds, in which there is no justification for the amounts they charge,” the explanation for the bill states.
Israeli media reported in January that opposition leader Yair Lapid tried to convince Histadrut chairman Arnon Bar-David to call a nationwide strike as part of the protests against the Netanyahu government.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)