2 – Repeated violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


The ITUC affiliate in Israel is the General Federation of Labour in Israel (HISTADRUT).

Israel ratified Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948) in 1957 and Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949) in 1957.

In practice

Browse by:

10Bis ordered to compensate employees for violating right to unionise 20-08-2021

The popular food delivery service 10Bis – an Israeli branch of the Dutch company Just Eat Takeaway.com – will pay 80,000 shekels ($25,000) in compensation to their employees after the Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court ruled two to one that the company had harmed the unionisation of its workers under the Histadrut. In addition to compensation, the company was also ordered to pay the costs of the legal expenses in the amount of 15,000 shekels ($4,600). Notably, the court recognised the Histadrut as the representative body of the company’s employees and ruled that 10Bis must negotiate with them with the goal of signing a collective bargaining agreement.
The majority ruling determined that the 10Bis management sought to fire the chair of the workers’ union and resorted to disproportionate disciplinary measures that violated their own terms. It was also determined that management took harmful actions against the organising workers and the leaders of the union, encouraging employees who acted to thwart the unionisation. Judges noted that “this conduct constitutes a violation of unionizing in terms of the message it conveys to employees who wish to organize, with regard to the attitude of the management towards them, in various aspects of working life.”
The ruling noted that management acted illegally when it established its own internal workers’ union to compete with workers’ efforts to organise under the Histadrut – but noted that it decided to stop its convening before the ruling was made.
The court rejected the management’s claims that the Histadrut violated the employees’ privacy or harassed them in violation of the provisions of the Spam Law, a 2008 law regulating the sending of commercial marketing to recipients without their consent by way of email, SMS or automatic calls. 10Bis claimed that the Histadrut sent advertisements to employees in violation of this law, but the court ruled that a workers’ union is not a product, and therefore the Histadrut’s act of informing workers about the union did not violate the Spam Law.
The court also rejected the claim that the Histadrut exerted “illegitimate influence” on the workers when it offered a benefit in the form of a coffee and pastry voucher to those who joined the union.
10Bis employees first unionised with the Histadrut in October 2020 after two previous failed attempts with another trade union, Hapoel Mizrahi. 10Bis employs some 1,500 people, more than a third of whom joined the union when it initially formed.

Employers delay and hinder collective bargaining12-01-2020

According to Histadrut, delaying negotiations is a main tactic used by employers to try and weaken unions and their representatives. The Hebrew Scouts Movement used this tactic and dragged its feet in negotiations for almost two years. After the first year, the Movement tried to challenge Histadrut representative status, and negotiations could only resume after lengthy judicial proceedings. The Movement continued to conduct negotiations in bad faith and with no intention to reach a collective agreement. Histadrut indicates that Suny-Samsung applied similar delaying tactics in negotiating a company-level collective agreement. The union adds that some restaurant owners also engaged in bad faith negotiations without any intention to reach an agreement with the representative unions.

Strikes prohibited by court orders12-01-2020

According to Histadrut, the National Labour Court has been prohibiting a legal strike in the ports for the past six years and a legal strike of the administrative workers sector in a government hospital for the past year.

Employers purposefully delay negotiations 31-12-2018

According to the Histadrut, delaying negotiations is the principal method used by employers to try and weaken unions and their representatives. For example, Ness Technologies has been dragging its feet in negotiations since 2014. A year ago, it tried to challenge the Histadrut representativity for collective bargaining and stopped negotiations of its own initiative bringing a false claim to court. It took more than a half year to obtain a court order to resume negotiations. However, the company continues to conduct negotiations in bad faith and with no intention of reaching a collective agreement.

Non-recognition of the union at Neto food company 31-12-2018

The Histadrut reported that at Neto food company, the worker who led the organising of workers for the union was physically attacked the day he began to contact his fellow workers to the union. Despite these attacks, the Histadrut reached the required representation threshold in early 2018. However, since then, the company has stubbornly refused to recognise the union and has introduced several complaints in courts to hamper organising. Negotiations of collective agreement are still pending.

Many difficulties to organise31-12-2018

The Histadrut reported two incidents of physical violence against union organisers in 2018, including at the Soda Stream manufacturing plant in Negev where a union representative was brutally assaulted while members of the management observed the scene without intervening. The Histadrut also reported that in various places, especially during the first stage of organising, workers face discrimination and harassment from their employer, including dismissal and transfer.

SodaStream refuses to bargain31-01-2018

Since November 2016 SodaStream, the manufacturing company best known as the maker of the consumer home carbonation product, has been dismissing all requests by the General Confederation of Labour in Israel (Histadrut) to engage in the negotiations of a collective agreement. Despite the fact that Histadrut has been recognised as the representative organisation in the company, the management circumvents collective bargaining and approaches workers directly. Employers’ refusal to negotiate is not uncommon in Israel. The management of Ness Technologies, an IT services company, has been intentionally postponing negotiations throughout 2017 in order to discourage and dilute organising in the workplace.

Threats and harassment at two education institutions31-01-2018

The General Confederation of Labour in Israel (Histadrut) has denounced the persistent harassment faced by female workers at the Nashei Agudat Isral and Me’orot HaMa’ayan Hardi, two education institutions. Since October 2017 when they attempted to establish a union, these workers have been relentlessly harassed and threatened on a daily basis by their employers.

Strikers attacked by thugs during a strike31-01-2018

On 9 January 2018 around 850 employees of Israeli telecommunications equipment provider ECI Telecom went on strike as part of their efforts to stop a plan announced in December 2017 to lay off 100 workers. Sixty-three employees had already received dismissal letters the day before. Clashes broke out between the picketers and the security staff hired by ECI Telecom near the company’s entrance. Security guards physically attacked strikers and sprayed them with tear gas. “ECI’s management has lost all touch with reality and with compassion for human dignity by hiring a thuggish security agency that will use any means to harm the workers,” said a spokesman for the General Confederation of Labour in Israel (Histadrut).

Blocking trade union organising by anti-union discrimination20-12-2015

In December 2015 workers of Bikurei Hashikma unit in Moshav Timurim (company responsible for the marketing and distribution of agricultural products to Rami Levy chain branches across the country) established an employee committee affiliated to the Histadrut trade union. In an immediate reaction, the company closed the unit. When the new union organised a strike, the company brought contract workers to replace the striking employees. Those participating in the strike action were punished with confiscation of company cars and threatened with dismissals. One hundred eighty workers were subsequently merged with another branch of the company where no unions were present. Court proceedings are pending.

This is not an isolated case. Dismissals, intimidation, unilateral change of working conditions – these are common employers’ practices intended at intimidation of trade union activists. At McDonald’s, employees participating in the strike were suspended from work, their shifts were reduced and their work arrangements were adversely changed after they returned to work. Trade union activists received significant cuts in their amount of work. They were also removed from the company WhatsApp lists used for communication regarding organisation of work, including assignment of shifts – therefore, in practice, dismissed without notice. The same anti-union strategy was adopted at Domino’s Pizza. In addition, managers of McDonald’s routinely prevented workers from speaking to trade union organisers – workers were sent to the closed part of a restaurant (e.g., the kitchen) and organisers were threatened with being reported to the police.

Refusal to register collective agreements 01-05-2015

The Chief Labour Officer refused to register a collective agreement in the construction sector protecting the rights of migrant workers, which was signed by the Histadrut. The appeal is pending.

Refusal to recognise representative trade union organisations15-04-2015

Anti-union discrimination is often combined with the refusal to recognise representative trade union organisations. Employers often delayed collective bargaining negotiations in an attempt to block an agreement or proposed clauses incompatible with workers’ fundamental rights. This was the case with McDonalds. Domino’s Pizza first entered in negotiations over a collective agreement, and then withdrew without any meaningful explanation. Subsequently, both companies started to refuse to conduct negotiations, on any issues, with their respective representative trade union organisations. There were also cases of companies trying to create “yellow” unions in order to subsequently imitate collective bargaining. For example, Amdocs created a mock employee committee in order to imitate collective bargaining and to by-pass the trade union organisation. The action has been successfully blocked after the labour court prohibited negotiations with a non-independent workers’ representation.

Anti-union discrimination and refusal to bargain31-12-2014

Workers employed by McDonald’s regularly face anti-union discrimination: working hours of workers who participated in strikes were cut and workers involved in strikes were suspended. Management disclosed confidential medical information of an active employees’ committee member to about 4,000 people. One manager who had organised other managers into the union was transferred to a distant branch. His working hours were decreased and several attempts were undertaken in order to dismiss him. A worker, who had participated in a strike in her branch, found out, through a news report on TV, that a complaint was filed against her to the police. She was questioned for several hours and was banned from coming near her workplace. After long negotiations with Histadrut, the CEO of McDonald’s Israel refused to sign a collective agreement on 22 April 2014. Since then the company is refusing to engage in further negotiations.

Workers also face discrimination based on their union membership with respect to promotions. The company Dr Gav responded to a unionising effort by raising the bar for bonuses for those workers who were active union members and who as a result earned lower wages. Since December 2014, the company is refusing to bargain with union representatives.

Physical harm to workers17-07-2014

Senior managers at McDonald’s Israel physically harmed young activist workers during strikes and protests. Yaron Sar, an employees’ committee member, was pushed by security guards and the regional director Moshe Dahan during a strike at the Gan Shmuel branch. During a protest march on 7 July 2014, the senior manager violently threw a sign at Vladislav Plahotnik, an employees’ committee member, who had participated in a protest action. Managers poured water on Tom Harari, a union activist, who had participated in a protest outside of the branch where he worked on 17 July 2014.

In July 2013, management at Maariv tried to...18-05-2014

In July 2013, management at Maariv tried to force the employees’ committee to sign a statement cancelling a collective agreement concluded six months earlier. Moreover, an email was sent to the workers arguing that the employees’ committee lost the right to represent workers in collective bargaining negotiations. Workers were asked individually to fill out an online questionnaire on cutbacks at the company.

In July 2013, the security company "Modi’in...18-05-2014

In July 2013, the security company “Modi’in Ezrachi Ltd.” threatened its security guards at the railway stations, through SMS text messages from their direct boss, that there is an absolute prohibition to organize in the framework of the Histadrut.

In September 2013, management at Electra announced in a letter sent by courier to approximately 30 workers that it is removing them from the work schedule until they sign a document committing them not to take any organizational measures. At the same time, management blocked the mobile phones and petrol allowance of the employees that held an information meeting about the organizing. The management also placed guards at the entrance of the workplace to stop the employees entering.

The “One” news website’s management fired Or Zilberman, one of the founders of the Journalists Committee, and cancelled the dismissal following an order of the Labour Court. In addition, employees who were identified as union members were given fewer shifts and they also were not invited to a social activities organised by management. Moreover, demands by unions to enter into collective bargaining negotiations are declined in violation of a court order of the Labour Court ruling that the Journalists Organisation is a representative organisation and that “One” news is obliged to hold negotiations.

Victory against Pelephone Communications31-01-2013

On 9 November 2011, management of Pelephone Communications refused to recognise Histradut as the representative organisation of workers even though more than one third of the workers joined Histradut. Furthermore, the company used discriminatory tactics against trade union members. Workers were called individually to meet with management and were pressured to withdraw their union membership. Management also summoned several members of the organising committee to inquiry talks about all kinds of supposed “disciplinary breaches”. False allegations about the union were spread by management. Furthermore, division heads summoned workers to announce that the company had established an “employees committee” and encouraged workers to join this “union”.

On September 3, 2012 the Judge of the Tel Aviv District Labour Court, Ornit Agasi, ruled that Pelephone’s management threatened its workers and acted to prevent organising activities. She issued a temporary court order refraining Pelephone from acting to thwart organising activities through personal appeals to workers. Following the lack of dialogue, the continued union busting and workers’ rights violations, Histadrut submitted a petition to the highest Israeli labour court, the National Labour Court. The court ruled in favour of Histradut and ordered that “Pelephone will refrain from initiating personal meetings with employees, with groups of employees, regarding exercising the right of association; and that the company will not use the means of communication at its disposal and its access to employees, in spreading messages against the organising, through text messages to cellular phones or distributing letters to employees through e-mail”.

Anti-union discrimination31-10-2012

On 6 June 2012, Clal Insurance Enterprises Holdings Ltd. CEO, Shy Talmon, warned employees not to join a union. He pointed out that “a collective agreement has many disadvantages: it creates uniformity in job conditions, which makes it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to compensate employees on a personal basis based on performance”.

On 21 October 2012, it was reported that Tel Aviv’s municipal bike rental service Tel-O-Fun terminated the contract of a union leader and interrogated workers on whether they were attempting to join a union.

Lack of consultation with unions29-02-2012

On 19 February 2012, Israel Railways signed an outsourcing agreement with the Canadian railway car manufacturer, Bombardier Inc., without the approval of Histadrut or the head of the Israel Railways workers’ committee.

Migrant workers abused and denied union rights30-11-2009

Migrant workers, who make up around 7% of the working population, have only restricted labour and trade unions rights. They are often mistreated, threatened with deportation or deported when they complain or attempt to organise. The rounding up and deportation of undocumented migrant workers has increased with the formation of a targeted immigration force and the economic crisis raising fears over local jobs. Histadrut recently opened membership to migrants and has urged Israeli employers to grant migrant workers the same social and employment rights as their Israeli counterparts. While the Israeli Labour Court has agreed that this principle should be applied, in practice abuse is still common.

Problems for Palestinian workers30-11-2009

The ILO reports that there are 60,000 Palestinians working legally and illegally in Israel; these workers face serious daily problems with crossing borders between the West Bank and Gaza Strip and are sometimes harassed and humiliated by border guards. In addition, some 20,000 Palestinians work in the West Bank for very low wages, and many are among the most marginalised people in Palestinian society, often widows or women with sick family members who fall through the gaps in the network of social solidarity that has enabled many Palestinians to survive the effects of the Israeli occupation. The situation of these workers is exacerbated by the fact that often Israeli authorities abandon the Palestinian workers to their employers by not inspecting their working conditions, especially in the West Bank settlements.

Very poor respect of labour law30-11-2009

According to a 2006 report, 92% of employers breach the labour law. The main victims are migrant workers and women. In February 2008, the government approved a significant increase in the number of labour supervisors.

Collective bargaining – fear of reprisals30-11-2009

The Histadrut Transport Workers’ Union is in dispute with truck drivers’ employers over their refusal to increase the wages of truckers, who have to work long hours to make up the shortfall. While the union has negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that covers truck drivers who are employed by the Israel Road Transport Board (ITB), around 80% of drivers in Israel remain unorganised for fear of employer reprisals. As a result, the Histadrut Transport Workers’ Union is undertaking an organising campaign.

© ITUC-CSI-IGB 2013 | www.ituc-csi.org | Contact Design by Pixeleyes.be - maps: jVectorMap