Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Workers Advice Centre, Monthly report, August 2005

In this issue:

Israeli terrorist murders 4 Palestinians
WAC delegation mourns the victims
Gazan workers left without work and without rights
'Wisconsin plan' in Israel - The wrong programme in the wrong place
Israel's poverty report shows disastrous effects of neo-liberal reforms

1. Israeli Terrorist Murders 4 Palestinian Workers in a settlement near Nablus

NABLUS, August 17, 2005, (WAFA)- 4 workers were murdered and two others wounded by an Israeli terrorist south of the West Bank city of Nablus. Security sources said that an Israeli terrorist opened fire at a group of Palestinian workers in an industrial zone belonging to the settlement of Shiloh, near Nablus.

The sources added that the terrorist, who works as a driver, opened fire at a group of Palestinian workers killing two and targeted another group killing one more and wounding others.

Local sources said that the victims are from the two villages of Qariot and Turmos'ayya, near Nablus. On August 4, an Israeli soldier opened fire at a bus killing 5 Palestinian Israeli Arabs and wounded ten others, in the city of Shefam'r, north of Israel.

See also:
Four Palestinians Killed by Israeli Settler in the West Bank

The orphans of Sinjil - Ha'aretz, 26th August, 2005

PGFTU condemns the criminal action by an Israeli settler

2. WAC's delegation mourns the victims of the Jewish terrorist in Shefam'r

A delegation of WAC activists and the Working Youth Movement paid a visit to Shefam'r on Saturday August, 6th to commemorate the 4 dead who were the victims of the Jewish terrorist two days earlier. The delegation included leading members of WAC and 15 members of the ""A-shabiba al Umalia" – WAC's youth group. The delegation put flowers on the graves of the 4 dead and visited the families. Assaf Adiv, WAC's national Coordinator spoke in the home of the Turki Family who lost two daughters (both were students). Later on Ahmad Turki - a member of WAC who is a relative of the dead girls – led the delegation to the cemetery were the delegation put flowers on the grave where the two sisters were buried together. (see picture)

Read more:
A construction worker who was on the bus recounts cornering terrorist

Thousands honor attack victims,7340,L-3123120,00.html

3. Gazan workerts left without work and without rights

Following Israel's withdrawl from Gaza and the dismanteling of the Settlements and the Erez Industrial Zone thousands of Palestinan workers lost their jobs with no alternative work places. Moreover some 4500 workers in Erez Industrial Zone and 3000 in the Settlements were not given compensation. The settlers that employed them said that they were “forcefully” evacuated therefore it is the obligation of the state to compensate them. WAC has made contact with Workers organizations in Gaza to help workers get their rights. We will update on this as soon as we have more information

See more in:
Gaza settlement Palestinian and migrant workers' right to compensation

Cheap labor, cheap deal

No compensation for Arabs losing their jobs in Gush Katif

4. Wisconsin Plan in Israel - The Wrong Program in the Wrong Place

An article due to be printed in Challenge Magazine Sep. 2005
We print here the first part of the article. You will be able to read it in WAC's site after Sep 20. Those who want it sooner can ask us for the full text to be sent to them soon as attachment in Microsoft word format.

In Early August 2005, the first, experimental steps were taken to implement the Wisconsin Plan in Israel – or as it is named here, Me-ha-Lev: “From the Heart.” Originating in the US State of Wisconsin in the mid 1990’s, it signals a new stage in the privatization of social services, with the aim of eliminating the welfare state. Although the official purpose is to move the jobless from welfare to “workfare,” the real goal is to reduce expenditures by punishing the poor.

Indeed, the proportion of Israelis receiving welfare is way out of line in comparison with most Western states. If there were jobs, it would certainly make sense to help them shift to “workfare.” The problem is that there are no jobs. In the Israeli version, the Wisconsin mechanism is set up to strike thousands of people from the caseload without assuring them of employment.

Israel’s annual Poverty Report, published on August 9, puts it first among western countries in poverty among children. After distribution of welfare payments, a third of Israel’s children (714,000) are below the poverty line (half the median income). The western country occupying second place in poor children, with 27%, is the US. Like much of what arrives these days with the tag “Made in America,” the Wisconsin Plan will deepen poverty.

With the rise of the second Sharon government, in partnership with the neo-liberal Shinui Party, the conditions were ripe for Wisconsin. The Knesset approved the plan in 2003. It jibed well with the reforms of then Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which included privatization (of the ports, the pension funds, the major telephone company) and drastic cuts in welfare (for the jobless, the physically challenged, single-parent families, and families with children).

During its initial stage, “From the Heart” includes 17,000 of the 160,000 who receive income maintenance. The plan will proceed on an experimental basis for two years in four centers: East and West Jerusalem; Nazareth and Nazareth Ilit; Hadera and the villages of Wadi Ara; and Ashkelon. 30% will be Arabs and 20% new immigrants.

The program will be run by four companies that won the tender. One prerequisite was that each Israeli company had to team up with a foreign company that has already “done Wisconsin” in its own land…

5. Israel's Poverty report shows the disastrous effects of the Government’s Neo liberal reforms.

The growth in child poverty in 2004 in comparison to 2003 is a clear proof of the true nature of the Government policy including the Welfare to Workfare program (see point 4 in this report). The report released by the Israeli National Insurance Institute (NII) says that poverty rates grew by about 50 percent since 1998, with about a third of all children living below the poverty line. Meanwhile, 28,000 additional families dropped below the poverty line in 2004, comprising 107,000 Israelis, 61,000 of them children. Arab citizens' poverty and unemployment is graver than the general Israeli situation due to systematic discrimination, confiscation of lands and all other means of subsistence.

Read more:
Israel leads West in child poverty,7340,L-3124397,00.html

Poverty report: 1 in 3 children poor,7340,L-3124357,00.html

Easy Comparison – a new databank on the socio-economic situation of Arab Citizens in Israel – Shows a comparison in basic indicators between Israeli Jews and Arabs.

We suggest to all our reader to go to Challenge Magazine site www.hanitzotz/com/challenge
where you could find a lot of related information. For a one time hard copy of Challenge Magazine contact Editor: Roni Ben Efrat at

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Defend Council Housing campaign news

30% of local authorities failed to meet the government July 31 deadline for getting their options appraisals approved.
The new 8 page DCH newspaper argues the government policy of privatising council housing is hitting big opposition. Bulk order copies to distribute to tenants, councillors and trade unions in your area (£18 per 100 / £100 per 1000). The arguments are relevant to all those in areas facing transfer, PFI or ALMO and in authorities which have voted for ‘stock retention’ – both need government to concede the ‘fourth option’.

DCH has been told of 77 authorities that have gone for stock retention. Many of those formally proposing transfer or ALMO expect stiff resistance. DCH has already been approached by tenants, councillors, trade unions and MPs from a large number of areas asking for help with organising a local campaign.

Check what your local council is proposing – there’s a stock options spreadsheet on the DCH website (email updates). Help us co-ordinate individuals and organisations in each area that want to campaign - send us contact details for tenants, councillors, trade unions and political parties in your area opposed to privatisation.

We still have some copies of the House of Commons Council Housing group’s 40 page full report. Copies £10 (free to individual tenants) with reductions negotiated for bulk orders.

DCH will be holding fringe meetings at both the TUC and Labour Party Conferences in Brighton. If you are attending either conference please get in touch to help distribute material.

Further information at and

Workers Advice Centre Monthly Report - July 2005

We reproduce here the first of a monthly report from the Workers Advice Centre in Israel.

1. The hidden part of Israel's Disengagement plan: No Palestinian Workers by 2008

In June 2004, in tandem with the decision to disengage, the government of Ariel Sharon took two crucial decisions concerning the Palestinians. First, as an immediate measure, it decided to close the industrial area at Erez, where 4500 Gazans worked. These suddenly found themselves with no source of livelihood. According to Gaza's branch of the PGFTU, most received no compensation.

The second decision was of longer-range: to rid Israel of Palestinian workers by the year 2008.

See the full text of the article in WAC's site: (after the article: "They always Return")

On the same subject see: "One Big Sweatshop" By Amiram Gil Ha'aretz 7.7.05

2. They Always Return – On the situation of undocumented Palestinian workers inside Israel

On June 10th a Palestinian worker from Jenin was found dead in the Israeli Police Station in Rosh Pina (Upper Galillee). Ali Abu Rub was on his way to get his unpaid salary from his former Israeli employer when he was jailed just for entering Israel illegally. The Police rejects the accusations that it killed him. However a friend who testified saw the Policemen beating Abu Rub severely. WAC followed the case and compiled this report on the plight of undocumented Palestinian workers who have no other choice but to take the risk and go to work inside Israel.

Full report is in WAC's site:

3. WAC takes active role in Barcelona's FSMed

From June 16 until June 19, 2005, social organizations and labor unions met in Barcelona within the framework of FSMed, the Mediterranean Social Forum. Several thousand took part. There were hundreds of workshops and activities. It was the first official occasion on which Mediterranean organizations met to exchange information concerning the economic, environmental and social problems that neo-liberal economics has created.

The Social Form in Israel organized a panel concerning the economic effects of globalization on the Middle East. The panel members were Dani Ben Simhon of WAC and Ephraim Davidi, a representative of Hadash (which includes the Communist Party) in the Histadrut (Israel's National Federation of Labor). Davidi warned against the emergency regulations in Israel that make it difficult to organize workers. He claimed that the Right and the Left share a consensus favoring the government's neo-liberal policies. Ben Simhon presented WAC's activities in protecting the rights of Arab workers. He cautioned that the Disengagement Plan will prove disastrous for the Palestinian people, because it will perpetuate the separation between Gaza and the West Bank.

The first to pay the price of disengagement, he said, are the Palestinian workers. He called on the trade unions taking part in the convention to support the demand that Palestinians from the Territories be allowed to work in Israel.

Together with the Spanish NGO, ACSUR La Segovias, WAC screened Video 48's documentary, "Breaking Walls" to a full house of 60. The film follows three people whose paths intersect at a mural in an Israeli Arab village. One is painter and activist Mike Alewitz. Another is Dani Ben Simhon, who gave up a promising art career to organize workers. The third is construction worker Mus'ab Salameh. Their story exhibits the tangled connection between Israeli and Palestinian societies.

Magali Thill, an ACSUR Representative, introduced the film. Yonatan Ben Efrat, its director, spoke about the way in which Video 48 combines art and social change. After a general discussion, WAC then screened a new short film by Video 48 called The Thirst to Work. It presents, in their own words, the dilemma of Arab women in Israel, caught between official discrimination that prevents them from getting jobs, on the one hand, and, on the other, the conservative Arab society, which frowns on a married woman who works outside the home.

The convention concluded with a colorful demonstration on the streets of Barcelona. In looking back, however, the representatives of WAC and Video 48 expressed regret at the lack of substance. The convention did not relate in any significant way to the major questions that today face the Middle East, such as the war in Iraq and the Disengagement Plan. Networking for its own sake is no match for the region's harsh realities. The global, European and Mediterranean forums are drifting into a routine of hobnobbing and backslapping that does not meet the challenges that confront us.

By Challenge staff:

4. Screening of "Breaking Walls" in Laborfest

San Francisco's International Working Class Film & Video Festival July 22 (Friday) 7:00 PM $5.00
Breaking Walls By Yonatan Ben Efrat - Video 48, Israel, 47 minutes

Video 48 is a group of alternative filmmakers focusing on the situation of Arabs inside Israel. When Israel began walling itself off from the Palestinians of the West Bank, Mike Alewitz, who paints colorful murals, from L.A. to Baghdad, asked the Workers Advice Center (WAC) to help him find a site in an Arab village. WAC chose Kufr Qara, where workers picked a promising wall at the football stadium. They told Alewitz that they wanted "a mural that would help them explain to other workers why joining a union is important."

Text of the LaborFest site:

5. WAC's East Jerusalem branch to organize a meeting of Unemployed workers – Wednesday July 20th – to discuss ways to fight the implementation of "Wisconsin Plan".

On August 1st the new Government plan called "Mehalev" (From Subsistence Benefits to Secured Jobs) modeled on the Wisconsin Workfare program will start to be implemented in Israel.

"…The project, initiated by the Finance Ministry's budget department, seeks to bring chronically unemployed welfare recipients into the work force. The companies that won the tender to operate private unemployment offices in different parts of the country in partnership with local firms are UK-based A4E Work; Maximus, Inc. of Reston, Virginia; and Alexander Calder; and Agens, both based in the Netherlands.

A4E Work will operate a center in Jerusalem with Israeli firm Aman, Maximus will work with human resources company ORS in Ashkelon, Calder has joined Marmanet in Nazareth, and Agens will work with Yeud Human Resources in Hadera. Each office will also be active in the surrounding region as well.

The government plans to invest some NIS 80 million in the experimental phase of the project, which will run for 2 years. The companies will also receive revenues based on the government's savings on welfare payments resulting from the project, compensation being based on the project's performance in terms of the number of welfare recipients successfully integrated into the work force.

Maximus has come under fire in the US in recent years for problematic practices and other faults. In one incident, the company accidentally canceled welfare of 105 families. The Wisconsin Works program, which Maximus is largely responsible for implementing, has also been the subject of investigations regarding its operation, practices and costs, most notably by the states legislative audit bureau (LAB)".

[Doubts cast on winners of Wisconsin plan tender: By Daniel Kennemer, The Jerusalem Post .Dec. 16, 2004]

As mentioned, one of the 4 centers chosen as a pilot is Jerusalem. Out of 3,500 unemployed workers who are scheduled to participate there will be more than 1,000 Palestinians. WAC has a branch in East Jerusalem and is very concerned about the plan. It is part of the Neo Liberal attack on workers’ rights and a direct attempt to pressure unemployed workers. The end result will be that they will have no job and also lose their benefits.

On July 20th – WAC will hold a public meeting for East Jerusalemite Unemployed workers to discuss ways to fight this new scheme. WAC has initiated similar actions in Nazareth and the Triangle (Ara'ra and Kufr Qara) where the plan will affect local unemployed workers.

SOLIDARITY News Bulletin August 18th 2005

Gate Gourmet Dispute

Discussion between the TGWU and Gate Gourmet management has broken down over their refusal to reinstate all staff. It looks as if the dispute will be protracted.
The Mirror managed to get hold of an internal company document which showed that the company had been planning to engineer a dispute in order to sack the workforce. They had even set up a subsidiary company to recruit another workforce.

TGWU General Secretary Tony Woodley has written an article in the Guardian about the dispute, in which he raises the need for the legalisation of solidarity action. Read it at:,7445,1549908,00.html

As Woodley points out BA sold off its catering arm in 1997 and subsequently continued to demands cuts from the contractor.

BA is investigating whether or not there was ‘intimidation’ of staff make them join an unofficial walk-out and said that action may be taken against some staff. The T&G has responded by saying it will support strike action against any victimisation. Should BA take any action it would represent a conscious decision to escalate the dispute.

We will have a major article in the next issue of SOLIDARITY. Suffice it to say here that this dispute is an important one politically because it highlights the advantage given to employers by employment law in this country, and the reality of the lives of many workers under a contracting out culture. It presents a major challenge to the whole trade union movement, but especially to union organisation at Heathrow.

Facts about the Gate Gourmet dispute (from the TGWU)

• Talks have been ongoing with Gate Gourment for many months in order to improve the business. During this time the union, the T&G, has played an active role in meeting the business needs.
• In June this year a rescue package was put forward by the company. The T&G said that any restructuring proposals needed to be across the board and include management grades. The company then re-graded 147 shop-floor workers as managers only to make them redundant. The original management team put themselves on higher starting salaries than before and made it clear they would not be part of the restructuring.
• Following this provocative and callous action, when the rescue package was put to the workforce it was rejected by nine to one.
• Since then T&G officers have been trying to find a way forward with the company and other parties to reach a solution.
• With the threat of redundancies hanging over the workers' head, Gate Gourmet then announced that they wished to employ 120 additional temporary staff. Why were they seeking to make people redundant and when they were planning to employ new staff? We would be happy for them to employ new workers if they removed the threat of redundancy from the original workforce.
• Yesterday, August 10th, 2005, the company brought in new workers without discussion. While the union sought clarity on the situation, staff assembled in the canteen in preparation for a meeting. Management then told staff that they had three minutes to get back to work or they would be sacked. They refused and remained in the building. Members starting the late shift also refused to come into work having heard the news. Those assembled in the car park were sacked by megaphone.
• It is becoming increasingly clear that Gate Gourmet had planned this action for some time. Private security guards were put on the gates. Extra workers were bussed in to replace those sacked. Dismissal letters were sent to all staff whether they are on leave or sick. The company had drivers in place six months ago to cover for this event. They also informed companies they trade with the day before that there would be a dispute.
• This dispute has been engineered by the company. This is a premeditated dispute designed to provoke action by workers so that they can be sacked without their due redundancy pay.
• This is a concerted attack on the airport workforce and their trade unions.
• This is irresponsible US-style union bashing which has no place in UK industrial relations.
• Gate Gourmet's action is jeopardising our jobs, our communities and the businesses and livelihoods of many of our colleagues. It must be resisted.

Hardship Fund

A Hardship fund has been set up: send cheques (payable to TGWU with Gate Gourmet written on reverse) to:

Gate Gourmet Hardship Fund
c/o Mr E McDermott, Regional Secretary TGWU,
218 Green Lanes, London N4 2HB

Send messages of support to:

Friday, August 19, 2005

SOLIDARITY News Bulletin August 3rd 2005

Save our NHS

A meeting involving a wide range of staff, unions and campaigns such as London Health Emergency has started the process of launching a campaign, “Save our NHS”, to challenge the government’s stepped up privatization offensive.
You can read an initial statement on the web site:

An article on the campaign will appear in the next issue of SOLIDARITY. The absence of a national campaign against the fracturing and privatization of the health service has meant staff have been left to their devises at the local level. This is a long overdue initiative.

Ballot for action to reinstate Gerry Hicks

Jerry Hicks, deputy convenor at the Rolls Royce factory in Filton, Bristol has been sacked by the company. His sacking is linked to the unofficial walk-out by staff against an attempt to sack two Amicus members. The men were reinstated.

A ballot of the Test section manual staff will take place from August 3 – 11. Gerry’s application for Interim Relief will take place on August 5th.

Rush messages of support to , and copy them to . Bombard Rolls Royce with faxes, phone calls, and letters of protest - Rolls-Royce International Limited, 65 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AT Tel 0207222 9020 or fax 020 72279178.

"If management get away with sacking Jerry, it will be open season on every steward across Rolls Royce," says John Locke, a test area steward in Bristol. "And it won't just be Rolls. Other employers, especially in engineering, will draw the conclusion that they can victimise union reps and get away with it. We are asking for the fullest possible support throughout our union, Amicus, and throughout the whole trade union movement. "This is a battle we cannot afford to lose."

Employment Tribunal Decision on Working Time in North Sea oil industry

As reported in Solidarity Magazine Employers in the off-shore oil industry have been denying off-shore oil industry workers four weeks paid leave. This was supposedly on the grounds that the Working Time Regulations did not apply outside the territorial waters of the UK (more than 12 miles off-shore). 300 Tribunal cases were registered, challenging this interpretation by the employers. Towards the end of July the Tribunal issued its initial judgement:

“The judgement of the employment tribunal is:-1. that the Working Time Regulations 1998, as amended by the Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2003, apply to offshore work (as defined therein) performed in the United Kingdom sector of the continental shelf (other than an area or part of an area to which the law of Northern Ireland applies); and2. that the said Regulations apply to the present claims which shall now proceed to a full Hearing.”

The ruling of the Tribunal confirms the arguments made from the outset by OILC regarding the application of the Regulations. On the links below you can read a report to its members by OILC, and the full findings of the Tribunal on the links below.

Message to OILC members

Employment Tribunal decision in full

Workers Advice Centre – Monthly Report

WAC, Israel has started producing a Monthly Report which will include news and reports of its activities. If you would like to receive the Report email:

The July one includes:
· An article on the life and death of Palestinian workers in Israel
· Israel's plans for Palestinian workers after the Disengagement plan
· Report of WAC's delegation to Barcelona FSmed meeting
· Invitation to the Film "Breaking Walls" in LaborFest in San Francisco
· WAC's East Jerusalem branch organizes a meeting of unemployed workers – Wednesday July 20th – to discuss ways to fight new "Wisconsin Plan".

Fire Brigades Union

FBU members in suffolk have begun a series of strike against job cuts. You can visit their web site explaining the background to the dispute at:

Meanwhile Andy Dark, the Acting Secretary of the London Region, has won the highest number of nominations for the election of Assistant General Secretary. Andy received 123 nominations. Geoff Ellis, generally considered to be the candidate of choice for the pro-Gilchrist forces, received 103 nominations.