Histadrut Ultimatum: Find Jobs for Broadcast Workers Or Full-Blown Strike

Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The government has 48 hours to work out employment options for all the workers of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the new Israel Broadcasting Corporation, Histadrut head Avi Nissenkorn declared Sunday. If work is not found for all the employees in both organizations, the Histadrut will call a general strike, to commence on Tuesday.

Walking off the job in support of the workers, if the strike does come to pass, will be all employees of the local authorities and municipalities, government offices, the Bank of Israel, the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi), the Airports Authority, and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, to name just a few. Also striking will be workers at several private and semi-private firms, including Bezeq, Rafael, Israel Aerospace Industries, the Israel Ports Corporation (including workers at Haifa and Ashdod ports), the Israel Electric Company, the Israel Post, Mekorot and others.

Public transportation will also largely grind to a halt, with Israel Railways, Egged, Dan and the Jerusalem Light Rail taking the day off. Non-emergency procedures at hospitals will be canceled, and universities, along with high schools belonging to the Amal, Na’amat, Wizo, and ORT chains will not hold classes.

The union’s demands are simple, said Nissenkorn: either a job in the IBA or IBC – whichever organization the government decides to maintain – and/or a generous buyout for workers who agree not to continue with either organization.

In addition to ensuring the future of workers of both organizations, Nissenkorn also said that the strike would encompass other issues – especially that of temporary workers. The union has conducted work actions in the past over the large number of contract workers employed in the public and private sector – who, because they do not have permanent jobs, do not receive many of the benefits of “regular” workers – and Nissenkorn said that the government has failed to follow through on previous promises to stop this practice.

The workers in both broadcasting organizations have been just as unhappy, in turn. In recent weeks, IBA workers have staged angry protests demanding that the government keep them on the job, but after the compromise was announced, it was the turn of IBC workers to loudly denounce the government. Nissenkorn has also “contributed” to the charged labor atmosphere of recent weeks, as various government departments and organizations have staged short strikes or work actions in solidarity with the IBA workers. In comments on the strike, Nissenkorn said that in any scenario regarding the resolution of the IBA/IBC dilemma, hundreds of workers would be thrown out of work, and the Histadrut “cannot sit idly by while the rights of workers are so badly harmed in this new and untested manner.”