‘Political’ strike that shut down the country was illegal, labor union must face consequences: MK

Already in January, Lapid was working to persuade the union to partner with him on a major strike that would disrupt Israel’s economy as an act of protest against the new government.

By World Israel News Staff

An abrupt labor strike called on Monday by the Histadrut, Israel’s labor union, which represents more than 700,000 Israeli workers, was illegal due to both its political nature and its failure to follow procedural guidelines, said Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman.

Since the new Netanyahu government took office, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets, blocking major highways and causing “national disruption” in protest against a judicial overhaul, which was part of the Likud party’s platform.

Histadrut chairman Arnon Bar-David announced the strike on Monday, which was taken to a new level of disruption. It crippled Israel’s economy and basic functions – cancelling all outgoing flights at Ben-Gurion Airport and shuttering malls and services – and a de facto shutdown of Israel’s healthcare system.

“The political strike yesterday was illegal, there’s no question,” Rothman, an architect of the judicial reforms, told Radio 103FM. “Do you know how many messages I saw yesterday from workers saying that the Histadrut was hurting them? [Histadrut] officials made an illegal decision to harm [workers.]”

In a later conversation with Army Radio, Rothman categorized the strike as a “violation of the rights of the workers,” noting that many of those forced to strike likely voted for the current government and are in favor of judicial reform.

Read  No schools, garbage collection: Cities on strike across Israel

Rothman hinted that the Histadrut will face consequences for the strike.

“Whoever uses his business power as a labor organization to force their political position should not be surprised that political forces will act against him in the same way,” he said.

Rothman’s position was supported by Lavi, a Zionist NGO.

Yitzhak Bam, an attorney working on behalf of Lavi, wrote an open letter to the Finance and Labor Ministries, noting that the strike violated legal requirements for labor disputes.

Labor disputes that could result in a strike must be declared to employers at least 15 days before workers halt their activities, Bam said.

The strike was also illegitimate because it was aimed at the Israeli government, not a specific employer, he added.

The only purpose of the strike was “to strengthen the political power of the chairman of the Histadrut. Such a strike cannot be legal according to the ruling of the Supreme Court,” Bam wrote.

According to a Channel 13 report already in January, Opposition leader Yair Lapid was working to persuade Bar-David to partner with him on a major strike that would disrupt Israel’s economy as an act of protest against the new government.