The Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) is threatening a general strike next Sunday in response to what it regards as a violation of an agreement signed several weeks ago by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services on improving safety on construction sites. The most important section in the agreement changes the scaffolding standard on construction sites to the European standard in order to make scaffolding safer.
With the announcement of the Knesset's dispersal, Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services MK Chaim Katz (Likud) and leading figures in his ministry quickly sent a draft of the new regulations to the Knesset Labor, Welfare, and Health Committee, which has the power to change the regulations. A discussion yesterday of the regulations was fruitless. Disagreements emerged in today's discussions, attended by scaffolding contractors and safety administration personnel, among other things concerning sections of the new regulations and a section dictating when the new regulation will go into effect. One of those present asserts that that the discussion broke up at a certain point, with the Histadrut quickly declaring that it regarded this as a breach of the agreement on changing the scaffolding standard. An announcement today by the Histadrut blamed Labor, Welfare and Health Committee chairperson MK Elie Elalouf for retracting the scaffolding reform for these events, stating, "Following Elalouf's intention to cancel the scaffolding reform, Histadrut chairperson Avi Nissenkorn is now announcing a general strike next Sunday, January 6, 2019."
The Labor, Welfare and Health Committee quickly published its own announcement stating, "Labor, Welfare and Health Committee chairperson Elie Elalouf halted discussion of the scaffolding reform after representatives of the Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, and Social Services were unable to provide solutions to problems raised by the contractors' representatives. The disputed sections concern continued use of the old scaffolding and the date on which the regulations will become effective. During the discussion, parties in the Histadrut tried to exert pressure for approval of the regulations. The committee chairperson refused to approve them without agreements, and said, 'We will not surrender to threats.'"
Israeli Scaffolding Contractors Association chairperson Meir Shemesh, who was present at the discussion, told "Globes," "The professional personnel ignored us for two years and found no solution to the problem, so we've reached a situation in which they're trying to change the regulations at the last minute, because the Knesset is being dispersed." Commenting on the Histadrut's threat of a strike, he added, "We don't understand what the Histadrut is doing pushing its nose into something it doesn't understand. It's a pity we're reached this situation when we could have changed the regulations by consent, which would also have added to safety on construction sites."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 31, 2018
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