Sodastream exploits precariousness of Palestinian workers

Submitted by Matthew on 21 June, 2017 - 10:37 Author: Gerry Bates

Last month the Israeli union federation, the Histadrut, filed a law suit against Sodastream claiming that the company was disrupting workers’ attempts to organise. One testimony is from a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem and Sodastream employee whose wife is a West Bank resident and whose children have severe medical problems.

According to the testimony, an Israeli security guard at the company promised to arrange for his wife to receive entry permits, or to enter Israel without papers with the help of a contact in the Border Police — so long as the Palestinian man helped to break up attempts at unionisation: This security guard was not wearing the security company’s uniform, he had no weapon, and no two-way radio. … but he said, “I will help you with the children, but I want you to help me work against the union. I want you to report everything you see in the factory to me. If someone signs another person up to the union — tell me who it is. If someone signed up for the Histadrut and you see him sleeping during his shift — photograph him.”

The employee initially agreed to help act against the workers, but discovered that the security guard couldn’t keep his promises, and now supports the trade union. The current controversy comes a year after Sodastream shut down its factory in the West Bank, and set up in Israel, after global boycott protests. The move led to the dismissal of 500 Palestinian workers, although 74 Palestinian workers moved to the new factory in the town of Lehavim in the Negev desert. And the Israeli government only renewed the work permits of these Palestinians who remained with the company, after a long legal battle. The reliance of these employees on bureaucracy and permits from the Israeli state is a weakness that can be exploited.

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