On the Structural Weakness of Trade Unions in Israel

Adam Smith, the ISL(RCIT in Israel/Occupied Palestine),12.11.2021

The Histadrut (the official trade union in Israel) has signed a new deal with the state and the employers. Mainly, on the positive side (if it can be called that) is a rise in the minimum wage to 6000 (from 5300) NIS over 5 years (aka barely keeping up with inflation), an increase of a single day per year in the vacation allowance, and the (limited) ability for the self-employed to access unemployment funds. In return, the Histadrut signed up for an industrial peace for 1 year, freeze on wages in the public sector, and agreed for overtime to be computed on a monthly rather than daily basis.

This last point is important and needs more explanation – what this means is that for somebody who works in shifts, working 12 hours one day and 4 hours the next will give an overtime pay of 4 hours (12-8 hours in the first day), for example, but under the new system, he will have 0 overtime, since it averages out with the hours in the next day. While for middle-upper class it matters less since they have a fixed 9-hour schedule, for lower income workers, working in shifts, this can be lower pay and a more hectic schedule, which the labor aristocracy is all too happy to sign away.

Regarding inflation, this year it is expected to hit a new record. Food prices have doubled over the last 20 years (3.5% yearly). Housing prices have also increased drastically. [1]

The head of the presidency of the business sector said: “I am sending a message for 2 million employed and 600,000 employers. It is important for us as an employer to see for the security and responsibility of the workers. This is a balanced deal. This is a breakthrough in the flexible hours’ aspect. This is a significant milestone for something that was locked for 60 years.” (Emphasis mine) [2]

The head of the Histadrut said: “… My decision to promote a deal has become a reality, from a deep sense of responsibility for the future of the Israeli society and I am thankful for the finance minister and all our partners that knew to bridge the gaps and put the infrastructure for jump-starting the economy. This deal we brought today to the public shows our responsible line in zero strike days and a discourse of unity, and we proved again that the Histadrut is in my hands. The Histadrut has shown all along the crisis that it is a moderating force in the economy that is not afraid to raise new flags…” (Emphasis mine) [3]

This shows the bankruptcy of the Zionist trade unions – where else does a trade union leader boasts of zero strike days? To understand this, we have to understand where the Histadrut came from.

The Histadrut started as an arm of the Zionist Colonialist movement, to woe Jewish workers away from socialist movement, with a promise of building “socialism” (for Jews only) in Palestine. It always saw its primary role as caring for the state and managing the affairs of the economy. It was forced to accept Israeli Arabs as members. It still does propaganda work for Israel in left wing circles.

Its delegates are organized on the basis of the location of their home, and not their workplace! And as the laws in Israel make it very difficult to leave for a more left-wing union, like Power to the Workers, there is not a lot of democracy in its structure. For example, the current head was parachuted into the role by the previous one, without an election. [4] If every head chooses to hand over power to his hand-picked successor, this is not a democracy, this is a dynasty.

Down with the new labor agreement!

Down with the Zionist Histadrut! Boycott Israel!

For a free and red Palestine from the river to the sea!


[1] https://www.ynet.co.il/economy/article/rkajvvzpf

[2] https://www.themarker.com/news/.premium-1.10350086

[3] https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001389590

[4] https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001288863

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