Supermarket Mogul Tried to Prevent Union Organizing, Court Says

A Rami Levy supermarket in Israel. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM - The Histadrut Labor Union was awarded a judgement of NIS 1.5 million, to be paid by supermarket mogul Rami Levy. The Be’er Sheva Labor Court ruled that Levy attempted to harass employees who sought to join the union, and successfully prevented the organization of workers by Histadrut representatives by threatening workers with sanctions, in some cases firing them.

The issue came to the fore in 2015, when Levy purchased the outstanding shares in a company called Bikurei Hashikma, which supplies fruits and vegetables to Rami Levy supermarket branches. At the time, workers expressed an interest in unionizing, but according to the Histadrut, Levy and his cohorts attempted to prevent organization activities from taking place. Levy himself threatened employees with dismissal, and in some cases attempted to fire workers.

Those workers were were among the organizers of the unionizing effort, and the workers described in court a list of sanctions the company took against them, and their attorneys displayed footage showing Levy himself threatening to fire them if they did not back down. The court dismissed the claims by Levy that the intimidation occurred before he was the sole owner of the company.

The Histadrut had sought NIS 10 million in compensation, but the court reduced the judgement to NIS 1.5 million, charging the company with “a direct attack on the first attempt at unionizing in the company, to the extent that the company shot down the effort altogether.”