WAC-MAAN representatives have recently conducted high level meetings with trade unions in the U.S. and Holland. WAC-MAAN, a relatively new trade union, makes continuous efforts to broaden its international ties and to learn from the experience of the global workers’ movement. The visits were a part of this effort. In September, a WAC-MAAN delegation met with the leadership of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers union (UE) in its central office in Pittsburgh, U.S.A. The UE, an independent union with left-wing views was represented by union president John Hovis, Treasurer Bruce Klipple, Director of international affairs Robin Alexander, Steve Tormey, secretary responsible for General Electric workers and also Bob Kingsley, Joseph Cohen and Salia Warren.
On WAC-MAAN’s side, Chairman Asaf Adiv was accompanied by Hadas Lahav, manager of Syndianna of Galilee (a fair trade association that cooperates with WAC Maan. See: www.sindyanna.com). Adiv laid out WAC-MAAN’s position with regard to the current global economic crisis and its effect on workers in Israel. He presented WAC-MAAN’s vision of organising Arab and Jewish workers on the basis of democracy and equality. He also introduced the union’s view regarding the political situation, and explained its historical position of opposing the occupation and supporting the struggle for a just peace, and for Palestinian self-determination within the 1967 borders as a prerequisite to peace.
John Hovis, U.E. president, highlighted the harsh economic crisis affecting the U.S.A. He explained the circumstances which led the union to take up a diffident stance towards President Obama, despite his left-wing rhetoric during the presidential election campaign. U.E. members assert that the past two years have shown the Obama presidency to have done nothing to further the social agenda in the U.S. since none of the pre-election promises have been fulfilled. The two unions concurred in their assessment of the social and political situation and agreed to continue the cooperation in order to support and encourage new progressive currents in the labor movement.
Simultaneously, two WAC-MAAN representatives, headed by the union Tel-Aviv branch leader Nir Nader, visited the Union of Transport Workers in Holland. This union organises lorry drivers and other road haulage and transport workers, and is affiliated with the Dutch Trade Union Federation, F.N.V., and the largest trade union in Holland. WAC-MAAN representatives, Nir Nader and Shiri Wilk, were received by the Transport Union General Secretary, Huub Van Den Dungen, and secretary responsible for international relations, Jan de Jong. They were also escorted by the veteran union activist Dick de Graph. The central issue for discussion was lorry drivers in Holland, and a comparison between their employment condition and those of their Israeli counterparts. It was revealed that a Dutch driver who is organised by a strong union receives N.I.S.48 per hour whereas an Israeli driver who is not a union member receives exactly half that sum – N.I.S.24.
Further comparison showed Dutch drivers to also be far better off in many other areas such as health, safety and working conditions. Nir Nader introduced his Dutch hosts to the current campaign organised by WAC-Maan with the aim of organizing truck and lorry drivers, and both sides agreed to cooperate in order to promote this important campaign.