How do you stop Palestinians unionizing? Cancel their entry permits

15 September 2014, from

An Israeli employer of Palestinians inside a West Bank settlement, with the help of Israeli authorities, is exploiting the military permit regime in order stop his workers from unionizing, a High Court petition alleges.

In order to sabotage the unionization of Palestinian workers, the owner of an Israeli car garage filed a false police complaint against one of the union organizers, a High Court petition filed Monday by the Ma’an Workers Advice Center alleges.

Hatem Abu Ziadeh, the leader of the Palestinian workers at Zarfaty Garage, located in the West Bank Mishor Adumim industrial park, had his permit to enter his workplace revoked by the Israel Police and Civil Administration after his employer filed a complaint alleging that he was intimidating other employees, the petition states.

The High Court petition seeks an injunction ordering the Israeli army to reinstate Abu Ziadeh’s permit to enter the Israeli-controlled industrial zone. According to a 2007 High Court decision, the protections of Israeli labor law apply to Israeli businesses operating in the West Bank and their Palestinian employees.

“This petition is about the improper use of the West Bank permit regime in order to harm the Zarfaty Garage’s employees’ [ability] to organize,” Ma’an wrote in a statement.

Abu Ziadeh has worked at the Zarfaty Garage for 17 years. Ma’an alleges that the police complaint and subsequent revocation of Abu Ziadeh’s permit was an attempt to circumvent labor laws that forbid the dismissal of union leaders in order to stop workers from organizing.

“It is entirely clear that the complaint, on the basis of which the Zarfaty Garage workers’ leader’s permit was revoked, was a false complaint [made] by an interested party, who changed his version of events three times in one week,” a statement by Ma’an said.

The following video report was produced by Israel Social TV earlier this summer, after Zarfaty’s Palestinian employees launched a labor strike.

In Depth: A journey into the dark heart of Israel’s permit regime

15 September 2014, from Haaretz

Petition: Israel Police used to help Jewish employers break strikes in West Bank

Petition alleges that Jewish employers are using the police to intimidate Arab workers trying to unionize.

The Judea and Samaria District Police is sometimes enlisted by Jewish employers in the West Bank to break attempts by Palestinian workers to organize or better their employment conditions, according to a petition submitted to the High Court of Justice Monday.

The petition was filed by Hatem Abu Ziadeh, 44, a resident of Bir Zeit, with the help of the Workers Advice Center-Maan. Abu Ziadeh has worked for years at the Tzarfati Garage, a large auto-service center in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone outside Jerusalem.

Like many employers of Palestinian workers, the garage didn’t provide its workers with social benefits, and for the past 15 months Abu Ziadeh has headed a workers committee that was set up, with Maan’s help, to try to negotiate better terms.

When the garage owners tried to fire Abu Ziadeh, Maan filed a petition with the Jerusalem Labor Court, which a month and a half ago ordered the garage to cancel Abu Ziadeh’s dismissal and continue negotiating with the workers.

The next day, the garage owner filed a complaint against Abu Ziadeh with the Judea and Samaria police, claiming that Abu Ziadeh had threatened other workers and was a security risk because he had damaged an Israel Defense Forces vehicle the garage was working on.

Abu Ziadeh was summoned for questioning to the Ma’aleh Adumim police station and released on a 1,000 shekel ($276) bond. His permit to enter the industrial zone was suspended, making it impossible for him to work.

“The suspension of the petitioner’s work permit is part of a reign of terror that hangs over the heads of Palestinian workers employed in Israel and the settlements,” states the petition, which was filed by attorney Smadar Ben-Natan.

In response to Abu Ziadeh’s dismissal, the workers declared a work dispute and later went on strike.

Detained by police

Management tried to hire other workers to break the strike and, according to the petition, sent representatives of the industrial zone’s employers’ organization to yell at and threaten the striking workers.

When Maan complained to the police, the police detained the Maan representative for questioning.

Maan says that enlisting the police in such intimidation is common.

“For years we have been complaining about the use of permits as a club against every worker who needs such a permit,” said Maan director Assaf Adiv.

“Employers have a ready solution: Instead of responding to a worker, or arguing with him, they simply go to the police, report him, and from that moment it will take him a year or two to remove the stain that sullied him, for no reason, and without him having any ability to respond or explain.”

Garage manager Morris Tzarfati refused to respond. “Write whatever you want,” he told Haaretz.

The Judea and Samaria police said, “The suspect was questioned on suspicion of threatening others and causing damage to IDF property.

“After the investigation, the case was referred to the military prosecution,” they continued. “The state’s response to the petition submitted to the High Court of Justice will be delivered to the court by the State Prosecutor’s Office.”