Airport contract workers use slowdown to join union
According to workers, in addition to the lack of social benefits, they are expected to work long night shifts at no additional pay, and remain on their feet for hours.
Dozens of contract workers at Ben-Gurion International Airport took advantage of Wednesday's six-hour strike to apply to join the Histadrut labor federation. The airport sanctions were part of the larger general strike to protest the conditions of contract workers.
The airport staff, employed by the Ram K.R.M. personnel agency, provide various services to passengers flying abroad, ranging from biometric checks to loading luggage. According to the workers, in addition to the lack of social benefits, they are expected to work long night shifts at no additional pay, and remain on their feet for hours.
"When we got to the airport to demonstrate, we met one of the workers, who described their situation," said social activist Alon-Lee Green, who then spoke to several others. "They had no idea that they could organize and started to ask us about their rights, and raised a lot of questions about their conditions.
"We told them what employment conditions were meant to be and that if they organized they could make demands of their employers," he said.
Green immediately called the Histadrut, which sent someone with forms for the workers to sign to start the process of forming a workers committee.
"The contract workers had to come to work, and the cleaners were indeed cleaning," Green said. "But the passenger service workers didn't really have much to do because there were no passengers, so they sat together, and we had a chance to explain things."
Social protest leader Stav Shaffir, who was also at the airport, said, "I believe this new workers committee is just the start of a wave of organizing that stems from the social protest and the contract workers' struggle."