Workers Castigate Histadrut Head Nissenkorn’s Handling of IBA Deal

Despite his latest display of concern for the rights of workers of the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), Histadrut Labor Federation chairperson, Avi Nissenkorn, was once again targeted for a protest demonstration on Monday night, April 10, when dozens of IBA workers held their Passover Seder outside his home in Hod Hasharon to protest a deal to establish a new public broadcasting corporation that will put hundreds of them out of work.

Even though Nissenkorn recently declared a labor dispute, paving the way for a general strike in the coming weeks, and claimed that “the decisions on the changes were made with complete disregard for the workers’ representatives,” IBA workers have castigated Nissenkorn’s handling of the entire process up until now.

IBA workers demonstrate in front of the Office of the Prime Minister in Jerusalem. (Photo: IBA workers union)

IBA workers demonstrate in front of the Office of the Prime Minister in Jerusalem. (Photo: IBA workers union)

“Does anyone care that we’re being sent home on the eve of May Day? We expect you [Nissenkorn] to come out and protect us,” the workers told journalists gathered outside the union chief’s residence on the night of the holiday.

The Histadrut says that the deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon which would strip the new Israel Broadcasting Corporation, generally referred to as “Kan” but widely known as “Hata’agid” (“the corporation”), of its news division, harms its employees.

Under the latest Netanyahu-Kahlon deal — which ended a coalition standoff that threatened new elections — Kan will lose its centerpiece news division, for which staff had already been hired ahead of the intended launch on April 30. Staffers from the existing IBA, which is being replaced, will instead provide the station’s news in the coming months until a new, separate broadcasting entity, made up primarily of former IBA employees, is established to deal with all current issues.

The Netanyahu-Kahlon deal, which also postponed the closure of the IBA from April 30 to May 15, was put together in response to petitions to Israel’s Supreme Court by the Journalists Union in Tel Aviv, along with members of the IBA workers’ committee. The petition for an interim injunction to prevent the compromise agreement from taking effect was denied by Justice Isaac Amit, on the grounds that it was not the role of the court to prevent the government or the Knesset from initiating legislation.

At the heart of the continuing controversy are hundreds of IBA workers who are not part of the news divisions of either Channel 1 (the IBA television channel) or Reshet Bet (the authority’s radio station), and who have not been hired for any position at the new IBC, meaning they will soon be unemployed. They, as well as their more fortunate colleagues who have signed contracts with the new corporation, say it is unfair that people who have spent years in the employment of the IBA and who have proven their abilities are being sent home, whereas no one from the new IBC is being treated in the same manner.

IBA workers barred the Israel Broadcasting Corporation management from entering IBA headquarters in the old Sha’are Zedek building on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road on Sunday morning, April 9. The IBA and IBC management teams had been scheduled to hold a joint meeting to discuss the human resource transition on the projected closure of the IBA and the inauguration of the IBC. Additional demonstrations were held last week in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem.