Pelephone workers strike

Two weeks after the precedent-setting labor dispute announcement, Pelephone employees today launched the first strike in the mobile industry.

Hundreds of Pelephone Communications Ltd. employees went on strike at 10 am today, in the first strike in Israel's mobile sector. The workers committee is furious that facing the hundreds of employees who went to the lobby in the carrier's headquarters in Givatayim, other employees from service centers, who were not due to participate in the strike, turned up in a counter-demonstration.

The workers committee says that this was an "ugly" act by Pelephone's management, which it alleges is inciting employees against each other. It should be noted that the employees who demonstrated against the strike wore white shirts bearing the company logo and the words, "Not striking". Pelephone's management denied involvement, saying, "The charge is condescending, as if the employees are management's puppets."

Today's strike came after the two-week cooling off period, following the unprecedented declaration of a labor dispute by the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel). The Pelephone strike includes the company's engineering and IT divisions, and headquarters staff. The employees are threatening to intensify their measures in the coming days, if management continues to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the unionization. The possible measures include expanding the strike to the large service centers.

Most employees on strike

Even before the start of the strike, Pelephone's spokesman said that the employees would not strike today, and that the Histadrut had not notified management about a strike. 20 minutes after the strike began, Pelephone made another announcement, which may reflect a sense of panic at the carrier. "Pelephone announces that, belying statements by the Histadrut, Pelephone's mobile network is working properly nationwide and there are no disruptions. The vast majority of employees are not on strike, and there are no disruptions at service centers, and customers are not expected to be affected."

Nonetheless, a Pelephone manager who is not identified with the unionization, told "Globes", "Most of the employees due to strike, went on strike."

Although Pelephone's management has consistently claimed in recent months that not enough employees had joined the Histadrut, as required by law (more than one-third), and that any industrial action would be a wildcat strike, management has refrained from petitioning the Labor Court for an injunction against the strikers.

A top labor lawyer, who represents large employers, told "Globes" that this may indicate that Pelephone's management admits that the unionization is authentic. He said that even if there a theoretical chance that the court would rule in management's favor, the legal proceedings themselves against the employees would be tantamount to a defeat.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 10, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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