'Strike Limit Bill' to Separate Business, Politics

Bill cleared by Ministerial Committee for Legislation to ensure that companies cannot strike to protest wide-ranging political causes.

Ido Ben-Porat ,

Foreign Ministry employees strike in Jerusale
Foreign Ministry employees strike in Jerusale

It is somewhat of a longstanding political practice in Israel for companies to strike to identify with political causes, such as the Ben-Gurion airport strike several months ago in solidarity with the Israel Postal Workers' Union - much to the frustration of consumers and businesses alike.

But that practice may change Sunday, after the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill to ban companies from striking for causes that are not directly related to working conditions. 

The bill, promoted by Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked, would enforce Supreme Court-enacted legislation that prohibits strikes to advance political causes not directly related to a company's future or field. 

"Employee rights and good working conditions are separate from the right and the duty of the government to make decisions about infrastructure changes in the country for the general public," the explanatory notes to the bill state. 

"Protecting strikes whose sole aim is to reduce governmental power, and to prevent it from implementing government programs which are allegedly for the good of the general public, can lead to devastating consequences and should be outlawed." 

Shaked's bill has received support across the political spectrum, and was also signed by left-wing MKs Meir Sheetrit (Labor) and Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid). 

"The bill seeks to define the legal grounds for an economic strike," Shaked explained. "There cannot be an open seal of approval for all strikes and sanctions."

"I understand that the proposal will create pressure on the head of the Histadrut [Avi Nissenkorn - ed.], but anyone with sense will understand that the market cannot stop because one power does not want to open the market to competition," she continued. "Strikes such as these cause large-scale harm to the Israeli economy and prevents the government from carrying out the necessary reforms."

Shaked added: "The law seeks to correct this and define legal grounds for strikes, which can be implemented only when [a policy would provide a] direct hit to the rights and social conditions of workers, but not when policy changes are due to infrastructure and economic reforms."