Let WAC Get On with its
shut down the Workers Advice Center
The Workers Advice Centre, a
left-wing initiative organising mainly Palestinian workers within
Israel, independently of the Histadrut, has apparently had enough
success to run into opposition from the state.
Although we may not all agree with
the politics of the Organisation for Democratic Action (ODA) or its
approach to union work, there do seem to be two principles here which we
have to defend.
1) The right of workers to
organise and belong to the trade union of their choice.
2) The right of workers and their unions to seek political expression
for their views and interests.
The Histadrut has always had its
own, Zionist, political aims, establishing and owning many enterprises,
and aiming to exclude or restrict Arab labour. Its leadership was
usually interchangeable with that of the Labour Party, including
More recently it adapted sufficient "independence" to incorporate
workers who support the right-wing Likud.
In these circumstances, we can
understand that Arab workers particularly feel the official union
federation does not represent them, and may prefer alternatives. And
whatever our general hesitations about "breakaway" trade unionism,
sympathise with their intentions. As for seeking a fresh political
voice, we too know this problem! And we can see that the state is being
hypocritical, and looking after its own selfish, reactionary interests
in attempting to decree that this is not the proper business of trade
unions! That is for the workers to decide.
Therefore, whatever our possible differences, I can see no reason not to
defend the WAC against state interference.
We the undersigned oppose the
decision by the Registrar of Non-Profit Associations to dismantle WAC –
MA'AN, the Workers Advice Center. WAC is an active association that has
distinguished itself in recent years not only by finding jobs for
unemployed Arab workers, but also by placing their issue on the public
agenda. We see the decision to abolish WAC as a severe blow to freedom
of organization in Israel. We call on the authorities to stop
interfering in WAC's important mission of promoting workers' rights.
The Registrar's decision
contravenes a Basic Law of Israel, Human Dignity and Liberty (1992): the
decision would keep the members of WAC from exercising their freedom to
organize for social goals.
The Registrar claims, without
foundation, that WAC's activities do not match its declared purposes and
that it serves as a front for a political party, the Organization for
Democratic Action. WAC's successes in placing workers testify to the
contrary. At present, 600 workers, along with their families, depend on
WAC's activity. The Registrar's arbitrary step constitutes a direct blow
to these people. It also contravenes Convention C 87 of the
International Labour Organization, to which Israel is a signatory, and
which assures the right of workers to organize without governmental
We call on the Minister of
Justice, Mr. Yosef Lapid, to instruct the Registrar to stop at once the
procedures against the Workers Advice Center, WAC – MA'AN.