Pleading for labor strike? Lapid secretly meets union head: report

Head of Israel’s largest labor union unlikely to support wide-scale strike in protest of new government, despite Lapid’s pleas.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Former Prime Minister Yair Lapid secretly met with the head of Israel’s largest labor union at his Tel Aviv home on Sunday, discussing the possibility of a wide-scale strike in response to proposed reforms to the judicial system.

According to a Channel 13 report, Lapid is trying to persuade Arnon Bar-David, chief of the Histadrut labor union, to partner with him on a major strike that would disrupt Israel’s economy as an act of protest against the new government.

Channel 13 reported that Bar-David is unlikely to agree to a large general strike, which would see some 800,000 members of the union cease working to pressure the government not to enact specific legislation.

Currently, a number of Israeli attorneys are attempting to garner support for a strike of legal workers, which has not been approved by Bar-David.

The fact that the labor leader has not given the green light to a limited capacity strike of workers within the legal system suggests that he would be unlikely to embrace a strike on an even larger scale.

Bar-David is reportedly engaged in negotiations with Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich regarding a higher minimum wage for workers and does not want to anger the lawmaker while he’s pushing for the reform.

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A Histadrut spokesman downplayed the significance of the meeting, saying that Bar-David regularly meets with political leaders from across the political spectrum.

When asked for comment by Channel 13, Lapid’s office declined to respond.

Historically, the Histadrut has been affiliated with the socialist Labor party – which barely crossed the electoral threshold in the recent national election – but has shifted towards a more non-partisan approach in recent years. Embracing a clearly political agenda by launching a strike in opposition to the new government would be a marked departure from the Histadrut’s policies as of late.

As the Histadrut’s membership is comprised of workers from across the political spectrum, a blatantly partisan strike would likely create division within the union.