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Labor union threatens nationwide strike over broadcast dispute

Histadrut head prepares to fight for rights of workers who may lose their jobs under coalition-saving deal

Avi Nissenkorn, chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation, at a press conference in Jerusalem, October 7, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Avi Nissenkorn, chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation, at a press conference in Jerusalem, October 7, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Histadrut Labor Union declared a labor dispute on Monday in the wake of a deal to resolve a coalition crisis over the new public broadcaster that the union says harms the workers.

The move made by Histadrut head Avi Nissenkorn paved the way for a general public sector strike in the next few weeks, following the deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to strip the new broadcaster, formally called “Kan” and widely known as Hata’agid (the corporation), of its news division.

“The decisions on the changes were made with complete disregard for the workers’ representatives,” Nissenkorn said.

Under the deal — which ended a coalition standoff that threatened new elections — Kan will lose its centerpiece news division, for which staff had been hired ahead of the intended launch on April 30, and the old Israel Broadcasting Authority’s staffers are instead to provide the station’s news in the coming months before a new news department is set up.

The deal will likely offset the saved IBA jobs with redundancies at Kan.

The newly-built control room at the offices of the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, in Tel Aviv. August 29, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
The newly built control room at the offices of the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, in Tel Aviv. August 29, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

“The Histadrut has declared a labor dispute about abuse of public employees of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the new authority, while [the government] pits the two groups of employees against each other,” Nissenkorn said.

The labor union boss said that the entire saga has created confusion and uncertainty for the workers.

“The Histadrut demands employment protection for the workers, especially in view of the large number of reforms, leaving the workers with constant uncertainty.”

Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich, who is running against Nissenkorn in the upcoming elections to head the Histadrut, criticized the union leader for doing too little too late. He called the dispute,she said, in order to drum up votes.

“I am beginning to regret that I didn’t announce my candidacy for the Histadrut elections three years ago. I’m sure if I had the workers would have had a Histadrut that fights for workers’ rights.”

She claimed that Nissenkorn has ignored the broadcast employees for years, along with all other workers in the country.

Speaking on Israel Radio Nissenkorn defended his record, saying that there was a huge gap between Yachimovich and workers’ rights, and he recommended that she keep quiet.

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