he first Histadrut strike ever held over worker safety looms in early November.
The deaths of 38 workers and others at construction sites around the country prompted Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn to set the legal and organizational machinery in motion for a possible strike two weeks ago.
Nissenkorn claims that his demands are reasonable. “It’s not possible to reduce the number of accidents to zero, but we should get them down to the OECD average. We’re at 2.5 times the OECD average,” he told Globes in an interview.
While acknowledging that in the short term, precautions like improved scaffolding will raise costs, and “the contractors should be helped with accelerated depreciation,” but “in a few years’ time, it will be seen that this move improves efficiency and safety, that it doesn’t increase costs but reduces them,” Nissenkorn argued.
“The scaffolding will be of better quality, easier and more efficient to work with. Every injury and every fall entails costs to the contractors as well,” he noted.
In his bid for broad support in a general strike, Nissenkorn pointed out that the construction workers’ grievances should be supported by workers across sectors.
“We represent the entire economy in this instance, because the safety problem does not exist in a vacuum. Everything has a direct economic effect.
“When safety in the construction industry improves, you’ll see that that will affect safety in all industries. When human life is assigned importance, that will reduce violence in the hospitals as well. In the end, we don’t exist in a bubble. It’s like the butterfly effect. Everything has an impact. When we deal with the safety problem, that will have knock-on effects, that’s how it is, by definition.”
When asked if the private sector workers will join the strike, Nissenkorn said they would.
“They will all cooperate and they will all go out on strike together.”