18 March 2020, WAC-MAAN

Kav LaOved (Worker’s Hotline) and WAC-MAAN have petitioned Israel’s National Labor Court against discriminatory practices by the Payment Department with regard to the deduction of membership dues and service fees from the salaries of Palestinian workers in Israel.

On February 18, 2020, Kav La’Oved and WAC-MAAN petitioned the National Labor Court concerning severe irregularities by the Payment Department of the Population and Immigration Authority with regard to the deduction of service fees and membership dues from the wages of Palestinians employed in Israel. It is estimated that a total of NIS 40 million of these fees and dues are being transferred annually to both the General Histadrut (which got the lion’s share) and the National Histadrut. The petitioners claim that the Payment Department discriminates among workers’ organizations, as well as collecting service fees from workers who are not included in a collective agreement and therefore should not be paying service fees or membership dues at all.

The petition points to a double standard: The Payment Department refuses to deduct the membership dues of Palestinians who belong to WAC-MAAN as it does for the two Histadruts. Worse, the Department continues to deduct service fees from these workers and transfer them to the General Histadrut, contrary to law. The petitioners claim, furthermore, that the Department discriminates against WAC-MAAN when it limits the Palestinians to a choice between the General and National Histadrut, against its obligation as a government body to act equitably.

As detailed in the petition, WAC-MAAN performs wide-ranging activities in defending Palestinians who work in Israel. (see a recent report on the WAC-MAAN’s activity to defend and organize Palestinian workers in Mishor Edumim Industrial Zone) To heap up obstacles against WAC amounts to harming this Union’s right to fair representation. The petition is backed by affidavits from Palestinians who are employed in the industrial zone of Atarot near Jerusalem, including members of the WAC-affiliated workers’ committee, who are forced to keep paying service fees to the General Histadrut against their will and contrary to law.

For many years the NGO Kav LaOved has waged a campaign against the abusive methods practiced in all matters connected to Palestinians working in Israel, including the astronomical mediation fees that they pay for their entry permits, as well as the cumbersome provisions that the Payment Department applies in the matter of pensions, sick leave, and more. See here a recent report by Kav LaOved: “The Occupation of Labor“.

In the petition, the petitioners demand an end to the collection of service fees from the wages of workers employed where there are no industry-wide collective agreements (for instance, the restaurant branch), or from the wages of workers whose employer is not a member of any employer’s organization. At present the deduction is made across the board, without anyone’s being responsible to check when it is legal and when not.

The significance of the remedies sought by the petition will be to allow fair and equal opportunity for Palestinian workers to join the union they choose and not pay extra money to unions they do not choose. Also, it will help to shed light on the actions of the Payment Department and to publish the list of employers from whose workers the service fees are being collected in order to ensure that the deductions occur according to law.  

Source: WAC-MAAN