The High Court of Justice in Israel has issued a preliminary ruling that workers at state-owned enterprises can no longer strike against market reforms being undertaken by the government. Accepting the government’s argument that strikes against government policy are politically motivated and thus illegal under their law, the high court has overturned its earlier order upholding the ‘right to strike’. This order allows the government to privatise the electricity sector while endangering the immediate employment of 12500 workers. If confirmed, it will also severely curtail the rights of Israeli workers.
The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) employs 12,500 workers. For the past three years, the government has instituted a so-called market reform programme to end the state monopoly on electricity generation.
The privatization plan means the company will stop generating electricity and sell its power stations to the private sector. The so-called reforms have already cost 800 jobs. The Histadrut expects the privatization to result in between 5,000 and 6,000 job losses. Workers at IEC took part in industrial action in June and July, including refusing to issue electric bills.
In May 2017, the High Court upheld early judgements by regional and national labour courts in support of the right to strike. However, the government appealed the ruling, claiming that because the strikers oppose government policy, the strike is political and therefore illegal under Israeli labour law. The government was supported by private electric corporations, who argued that strikes should not be allowed to influence, harm or cause financial loss.
“IndustriALL Global Union is very concerned about the possibility of imposing serious restrictions on the right to strike. We believe such an outcome would be against the International Covenant on Economic, Social and cultural Rights, as well as against ILO’s Convention 87 concerning freedom of association and protection of the right to organize, and ILO’s Convention 98 concerning the application of the principles of the right to organize and to bargain collectively.”
The Israel state and Jewish lobby in US portray Palestine as the enemy of Jewish people. This ruling shows who the real enemies are all the working people. The government of Israel, like governments all over the world, serves the interests of financial elite who want “that strikes should not be allowed to influence, harm or cause financial loss”. The workers’ democratic rights take a back seat.