]The first half of 2018 has seen WAC-MAAN surge forward in unionizing and defending the rights of workers and the unemployed, in promoting the employment of Arab women, and in its activities against workplace accidents in construction. During this period WAC also initiated three public conferences.
B’Tselem: Joining WAC-MAAN in March 2018 were 40 Israeli and Palestinian employees of the human rights NGO B’Tselem, including several Palestinian field researchers who are citizens of the Palestinian Authority. Since B’Tselem is an organization that documents human rights violations by Israeli settlers and the army in the occupied territories, and since many of WAC’s activities are on the seam of the conflict, WAC is the natural place for B’Tselem employees to go for unionizing and regulating their job conditions. WAC is currently in negotiations with the NGO’s management for a collective agreement, based on equality of employment terms between Israelis and Palestinians. For B’Tselem see here https://www.btselem.org/
The Train Theatre: In April 2018, some 40 members of the Train Theatre joined WAC. This is a unique group of performing artists who until now had been taken on as service providers, not employees. Negotiations are expected to begin soon for a collective agreement which will establish them as employees and enable them to have a say in decision-making.
The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants: In July 2018, 20 workers from the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants asked to join WAC. This organization is the leading NGO defending migrants and refugees in Israel, including asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan. The management responded well, and negotiations are expected to begin in the coming weeks.
N.A. Metal Industries: In July 2018, a small group of Palestinian workers from Jericho joined WAC. These workers are employed in the industrial zone of the Mishor Adumim settlement (Area C of the West Bank). WAC has notified the management that it is now the representative workers organization and is waiting for the firm’s reply.
Hand in Hand: Since September 2017, WAC has been conducting negotiations at this NGO which provides bilingual education and employs some 250 people. This is a challenging task, both because of the range of positions and because of the distance between the various schools and kindergartens that the organization runs. We are working closely with those on the ground, and the group of WAC activists includes dozens of teachers and other staff members who are working hard to reach an agreement. We aim to have it done by the beginning of the school year, as was agreed with the management already in February.
Rosh Ha’ayin Conservatory: Three years after we signed a groundbreaking collective agreement for music teachers in Israel, negotiations have begun again at Rosh Ha’ayin Conservatory. At the time, we demanded that music teachers working in a project run by the conservatory in the town’s schools (that was not included in the first agreement) would also be part of the new agreement. These teachers were not protected by the original agreement and continue to work without job security. In a general meeting at the beginning of July, the teachers agreed that if the management continues to reject this demand, they would renew the struggle.
The Musrara School of Photography and Music: In May 2018, the fourth collective agreement with Musrara was signed. The new one enables workers with seven years’ seniority to participate in a study fund, improves wages, and determines wage hikes for four administrative staff members who had not been included in the previous agreements.
Public activities and social solidarity
High Court, East Jerusalem: In March 2018, the court held the first debate on a case filed by WAC and Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, against the inhuman conditions at the entrance to the Interior Ministry and Employment Bureau in East Jerusalem. The struggle and the Supreme Court session received broad coverage in the Palestinian and Israeli media.
In response to the case, at the end of June 2018 the State Attorney announced that for the first time, Palestinian jobseekers would be permitted to go to the Employment Bureau branch in West Jerusalem, where conditions are far better. See this article for further details.
Women and Work project: On July 23, 35 Arab women will receive graduation certificates in geriatric nursing from the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center. They will join 29 other women who have already graduated, most of whom have found work. The training project, the result of collaboration between WAC and the Health Ministry, is a partial solution to the critical labor shortages in geriatric wards, while enabling the women to improve their economic and social status. It also saves the state in benefit payments and reduces the need to import migrant laborers. The potential to incorporate Arab women in this field is considerable.
Conferences and public activities WAC initiated
International Women’s Day: On March 8, we celebrated International Women’s Day at Jaffa’s Arab Hebrew Theatre with the slogan, “End the Expulsion of Asylum Seekers.” See this account of the event.
Construction worker safety conference: This conference, held on April 14, was the result of collaboration between WAC and Kav Laoved, a workers’ rights NGO, to improve safety at work – both through legislation and by raising awareness among construction workers. The project was funded by the EU. See this Social TV report which was screened during the conference.
May Day conference: This event was held at the Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv under the slogan, “Workers for Human Rights.” See this article about the conference.
Exhibition: The exhibition of multimedia artist Noam Toran, shown at the RawArt Gallery in south Tel Aviv throughout June, focused on Jewish-Arab cooperation among workers in Mandatory Palestine. The exhibition, which drew inspiration from WAC’s work among other sources, hosted a debate among MA students from the Beit Berl College of Art with WAC director Assaf Adiv. See this article about the exhibition and its significance.
Donate to WAC and get a tax exemption
Donations in Israel: Article 46a: At the beginning of 2018, WAC received recognition as a social organization eligible to receive tax-exempt donations, in accordance with Article 46a. Business owners who wish to donate to WAC can include the donation as a tax-exempt expense (see an article on the issue). Please donate and pass on to other potential donors. To donate online in Israel Here.
Translation: Yonatan Preminger