Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Israeli Educational TV Workers

Israeli Educational TV is forcing new employment arrangements for Freelance Workers that are exploitative and unacceptable. ETV, a governmental institution, is creating a false norm. WAC organizes the Freelance Workers and calls for immediate negotiations in order to ensure their rights.

Freelance workers in Educational Television are being asked to sign new agreements that will come into force in January 2007. In a letter of December 14 to Ms. Yaffa Vigodski, General Director of Educational Television, WAC claims that the new labor arrangements being forced on freelance workers by Educational Television are exploitative and contravene basic workers’ rights.

The definition of the workers as freelancers is a fiction. These are ordinary employees who work at ETV every day, in some cases for periods lasting years. The move to sign a new contract with them indicates satisfaction with their work; but the management of Educational Television wants to have it both ways – to have a professional, skilful labor force, at the same time cutting costs by depriving the workers of their rights.

As part of this attempt, the management has moved some workers from a full-time basis to twelve days per month while simultaneously recruiting new workers. Many freelancers who have been working for more than a year are now being asked to sign temporary contracts, which will not afford employment benefits.

The new arrangement turns permanent employees into casual workers, forcing their termination every few months. It does not guarantee sick pay, holiday, compassionate leave, pension, or career development. In addition, it (illegally) forbids trade-union membership.
By trying to force its workers to sign the arrangement, Educational Television, a public employer, is creating an abhorrent and unacceptable norm. Thus, the state, which is supposed to protect its citizens, is seeking to harm them.

Exploitation in the work-place has become a national malaise. The Association for Civil Rights published a report this week about the grave situation of workers in Israel. Recently, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor undertook a campaign to inspect and control employers, in order to ensure the application of employment legislation. The case of Educational Television stands in stark contrast to the obligations of public bodies to keep within these rules.

WAC is organizing the Freelance Workers of ETV who are not represented by the Local Workers Committee affiliated to the Histadrut. In the struggle of these workers since June 2006 WAC has collaborated with the Local Workers Committee in the campaign for the rights of these workers and has been able to stop the firing of several. Entering the new phase of the struggle WAC hopes to get the widest support for its demand to start serious negotiations in order to ensure their rights.

For more details: Assaf Adiv – National Coordinator Email: Mobile: 972-50-4330034


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