General strike in Israel

Submitted by Matthew on 9 November, 2011 - 11:11

A four-hour general strike in Israel caused what the Ha’ aretz paper called “near paralysis” on the morning of Monday 7 November as workers took action in a dispute about public sector contracts.

Schools, transport hubs (including Ben Gurion International Airport) and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchanged were shut down as hundreds of thousands of workers took action.

The Histadrut union federation is demanding that the government hires 250,000 public sector workers currently employed through agencies on a temporary or semi-casual basis on permanent contracts and levels up their conditions to those of other permanent employees.

The strike was limited to four hours by a ruling from the Israeli Labour Court. In advance of the strike, Histadrut leader Ofer Eini said that the Court was “the only thing that can stop us”.

This is the first significant industrial confrontation since the explosion of social protest in the summer. Many commentators believe Histadrut has been significantly emboldened by the protest movement, with some suggesting that the protest movement had acted directly as catalyst for the strikes.

The movement itself is slowly beginning to revive after a two-month lull, with 50,000 demonstrating in Tel Aviv on 29 October. The demonstration’ s main demand was for the government to cancel the planned 2012 budget and re-launch a “social budget” instead.

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