Ofer Eini, the brash, outspoken head of the powerful Histadrut labor federation, announced his resignation on Tuesday, citing a desire to “start a new path.”
Eini, who has held the position for eight years, said he will leave the post on February 1, 2014, and recommended Histadrut deputy chair Avi Nissenkorn to replace him.
During his tenure, the Histadrut reached “unprecedented heights” in impacting “the economy, society, public employees and retirees” and became “very popular among the general public,” Eini said in a statement, and added that he felt “a sense of fulfillment, and a desire to set out on a new path.”
The leadership of the Histadrut, the country’s largest labor union, is chosen by its members in a direct election.
Eini won a second five-year term in 2012, but will only serve out a portion of the time. He first gained the role in 2006 without an election following the resignation of Amir Peretz, and then was elected to his first term in 2007.
It was not immediately announced when new elections would be held. A meeting of Histadrut leadership will take place Tuesday afternoon, in the wake of Eini’s announcement.
Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich expressed regret on Tuesday that Eini was leaving his post, and said that his tenure marked “important years” of “strengthening the status of many workers,” which came after a long period where workers’ rights were on the decline.
The Histadrut labor union, founded in 1920, grew to be one of the most powerful institutions in both Mandate-era Palestine and Israel. Although the influence of organized labor has waned in recent years, the Histadrut’s large membership ensures its ability to call paralyzing strikes when it deems necessary.