Histadrut Will Not Announce a General Strike, Yet

Histadrut Labor Federation chairman Arnon Bar-David said on Wednesday that the country’s largest union will step in to prevent a constitutional crisis if the government refuses to abide by a potential High Court of Justice decision to strike down legislation.

Bar-David met with a forum of employers leaders to discuss the possibility, against the backdrop of upcoming High Court hearings on petitions against recently passed laws that involve amendments to Basic Laws. Bar-David told the business leaders that ignoring the High Court would “cross all lines” and spell total chaos. “We will not allow such a constitutional crisis to occur, and we will not sit on the sidelines,” Bar-David vowed.

Protest banner in front of the Histadrut headquarters in Tel-Aviv (Photo: Zo Haderech)

However, he did not give a clear commitment that the Histadrut would call a strike. The Histadrut, has faced during last weeks mass workers pressure to call a general strike. Past week, the White Coats organization of physicians together with thousands of soclal workers and medical professionals are calling on their compatriots to shut down the economy. “The Histadrut-General Labor Association and all citizens, bodies and companies loyal to the law, to declare in advance that in the event of a constitutional crisis, the economy will be shut down until the premier and his ministers return to obeying the law,” they said.

Nullifying a quasi-constitutional Basic Law would be an unprecedented exercise of judicial review over the Knesset’s constituent authority. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to say whether his government would abide by such a ruling, while his coalition has said the High Court has no right to intervene on Basic Law amendments.

On last July, ten of thousands of protesters rallied outside the Histadrut’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, as chief Arnon Bar-David holds “emergency” deliberations amid calls for the labor federation to declare a strike.

In late March, the Histadrut announced a general strike as the coalition attempted to push multiple overhaul balls through parliament. That strike lasted a single day as Netanyahu quickly halted the legislation to allow for talks with opposition party representatives hosted by President Isaac Herzog.

But months of negotiations failed to bring an agreement and Netanyahu’s coalition of fascist, far-right and religious parties have recently forged ahead unilaterally with its plan to remake the justice system.

Related: https://maki.org.il/en/?p=30919