Photo Credit: Avi1111 Dr. Avishai teicher
Logo of the Histadrut

Israel’s Foreign Ministry’s Workers Committee has ordered the ministry’s civil servants to launch sanctions, starting Thursday, in order to sabotage US President Trump’s first state visit to Israel, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

According to the report, the ministry’s workers’ committee has sent letters instructing employees to stop preparing for the visit, including not attending preparatory meetings, not ordering supplies and issuing payment guarantees, and not issuing visas.

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The committee issued a statement saying that negotiations with the Finance Ministry have ended without a satisfying resolution of their labor dispute, and that now comes the stage of confrontation over the professional status and conditions of service of the Foreign Ministry employees. And so, starting Thursday, they plan to take “firm organizational measures that will harm the issues on the political and organizational agenda.”

In the letter, the workers’ committee accuses the Finance Ministry of “deliberately delaying the implementation of the agreement with the Foreign Ministry, the signing of which was led by the chairman of the Histadrut.”

Which probably brings us to the back story of this wildcat strike, the fact that the Histadrut, Israel’s umbrella organization of trade unions, is in the midst of an election campaign to pick the next chairman, with the leading candidates being the incumbent, Avi Nisankorn, who is facing an unexpected carpetbagger opponent, MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Camp). Nisankorn is backed by Labor party chairman MK Isaac Herzog, the sworn enemy of Yachimovich, who Herzog had unseated at the chairman’s post.

The sabotage strike must be seen as a show of force on the part of Nisankorn, who must show that he and his national union are still relevant. Only 540,000 Israelis are union members, in a country where union membership is actually encouraged by the state. There are many extra-Histadrut labor unions whose ranks are growing, at the expense of the nearly century-old mother of all unions.

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