Finance Ministry to sue Israel’s largest labor union for illegal strike: report

The Israeli government is planning to hold the labor union responsible for the economic damage caused by last week’s massive strike.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has ordered his office to sue the Histadrut, Israel’s largest labor union, after the body called a seemingly illegal strike last week that paralyzed the country.

According to a Mako report, Smotrich’s ministry is currently attempting to calculate the economic damage caused by the strike, and plans to sue the Histadrut for that amount.

Additionally, having the strike officially declared illegal by a court will ensure that employees who did not work that day will not be compensated.

Mako noted that this would be the first time the Israeli government holds the Histadrut financially and legally accountable for an illegal strike.

Crafting legislation specifically focusing on the Histadrut, such as limiting the right to strike, was also brought up during Finance Ministry discussions, but is on the backburner for now, Mako reported.

Last Monday, Histadrut head Arnon Bar David called an unprecedented strike as an act of political protest against potential changes to Israel’s judicial system.

Over 800,000 Israelis in the workforce are members of the Histadrut, including municipal and state employees, healthcare professionals, transportation industry workers, and more.

The general strike called by the Histadrut, coupled with an economic shutdown from Israel’s largest business and retail tycoons, crippled the country and brought Israel to a virtual standstill.

Businesses, hospitals, schools, municipal services, and Ben-Gurion Airport were all shuttered or working in an extremely limited capacity due to the strike, which was called off after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he was suspending the judicial reform legislation.

However, MK Simcha Rothman of the Religious Zionism party and a right-wing watchdog group have said that the Histadrut strike was illegal because it was political in nature and aimed against the government rather than at a specific employer.

Additionally, according to legal guidelines, a labor dispute must be declared by the Histadrut at least 15 days prior to a strike. This protocol was not followed last week.