Histadrut to Call National Strike over Construction Workers’ Deaths

The Histadrut Labor Federation is expected to soon call a nationwide strike due to the government’s inaction over construction site deaths. To date, 37 construction workers have died in workplace accidents in Israel since the beginning of this year. These statistics do not include two visitors to building sites who have also died during 2018.

“We work to live, not to die - Fighting for workplace safety” (Histadrut ad campaign against workplace accidents)

“We work to live, not to die – Fighting for workplace safety” (Histadrut ad campaign against workplace accidents)

Israel’s largest union is planning an emergency meeting for tomorrow, Thursday, November 1, to discuss the matter. Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissenkorn is expected to announce a nationwide strike, after the government failed to respond to his call for action over the past few weeks to put a halt to construction deaths.

Two weeks ago, Nissenkorn declared that if the government and Knesset do not take meaningful steps to stop the phenomenon, the Histadrut would launch a general strike. That day, two construction workers died on the job.

The Histadrut enumerated several demands, including the adoption of European standards for construction and strengthening enforcement of security measures, including mandatory harnesses.

The Histadrut also demanded that all government construction and infrastructure tenders include security requirements. A bill on this matter was submitted to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, but the committee put off discussing it until four months from now.

The bill would require companies participating in construction tenders for the government, municipalities, government companies, and other government entities to meet safety standards. The goal would be making safety standards uniform.

According to Dahil Hamed, a member of the Histadrut leadership and Chairman of the Hadash union faction, “This proves above all the far-right and neoliberal government’s approach to everything that has to do with labor accidents in the construction sector.” Hamid added: “The government cannot shake off responsibility. The actions that need to be taken are mainly in the government’s hands. For example, it makes no sense that in the Israel of 2018 the European standard for scaffolding has not been adopted.”