Sources inform ''Globes'' that the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, under president Uriel Lynn, is writing a bill to greatly restrict the powers of the National Labor Court. As part of a new strategy, the Chambers of Commerce has withdrawn its intention of petitioning the High Court of Justice against the National Labor Court ruling that an employer may not express an opinion about the unionization of employees, and to focus its efforts on the government and the Knesset.
The Economic Organizations Liaison Committee, headed by Zvika Oren, is reportedly still planning to file a petition.
The Chambers of Commerce reportedly believes that it will be able to garner support for its bill in the new coalition after the elections. The assumption is apparently based on the right-wing socioeconomic positions of Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett and on the positions of Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who often speaks out against the strong unions.
Nonetheless, the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) will likely use its cross-party support to foil any legislation to restrict the labor court. The Histadrut is working with Shas, one of Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini's coalition partner in the union. The daughter of Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef, Rivka Chakutai, is a Histadrut executive. MK Haim Katz (Likud), who concurrently serves as the Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) workers committee chairman, will also likely frustrate any such legislation.
The Chambers of Commerce's bill seeks to prevent the National Labor Court from setting precedents, which would restrict or burden employers, and leave only with the authority to rule on collective labor contracts and to issue injunctions against strikes. The Chambers of Commerce argues that the National Labor Court exceeded its authority when it ruled that an employer may not express an opinion about the unionization of employees, and cited two other rulings in this spirit: a ruling that bans an employer from firing an employee without a hearing, and pertinent grounds just because the employee reached retirement age; and a ruling that facilitates unionization at a company even if this occurs in just one unit, and is not company-wide.
Lynn says that it is unacceptable for the National Labor Court to reject the Basic Law: Freedom of Expression from employers in favor of another right - employees' freedom to organize. This is not the first time that Lynn is trying to restrict the National Labor Court's power. He has called for the closing of the court altogether, and he was behind the establishment of a committee that reviewed the court's authority, but concluded that it should not be touched.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 21, 2013
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