Beginning Wednesday, rank and file employees at most major bus companies, banks and numerous other venues plan to walk out in a nationwide strike designed to paralyze Israeli society.
Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissenkorn announced Tuesday the job action is taking place after repeated requests for increased enforcement and implementation of international standards intended to solve workplace safety issues, as construction accidents continue to claim the lives of workers on sites have been ignored.
“A man gets up in the morning, comes to his regular job and is seriously injured or killed, and it could happened to any one of us if we were working in a place like this,” Nissenkorn said at a news conference held to announce the strike, which he said would continue “indefinitely.”
According to Nissenkorn, the strike comes two months after the Histadrut Labor Union asked the government for the implementation of the European standard on binding scaffolds, the enforcement of the requirement to wear a harness, regulation of levers and introduction of a binding safety appendix to the state’s construction and infrastructure centers.
Last week, Nissenkorn sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and to Labor and Social Affairs Minister Haim Katz, warning, “We cannot accept the continued foot-dragging. Any additional delay exacts a heavy toll on human life and a worker’s health.”
In response, Katz said in a statement that he hoped the strike would be one of short duration, as a “warning only, and that we are waiting until we receive from the Finance Ministry the 108 required standards of supervision.”
“The Ministry of Finance places a high importance on improving the level of safety at work on construction sites and assists the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in implementing the measures for this purpose,” the Finance Ministry said in its responding statement. “The Finance Ministry allows the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to use approximately 100 standards for the purpose of increasing enforcement on construction sites.”
The Egged and Dan Be’er Sheva bus companies are expected to join the strike, as are all of the banks, WIZO, Na’amat, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee, Israel Electric Corporation, Israel Post, and Israel Railways.