Israel's women professional basketball players yesterday voted to go on strike as of next Monday if the Israel Basketball Association and the teams fail to establish a dialogue with them about caps on foreign players and improving their pension conditions.
The players are also seeking representation on the association's committee on women.
About 20 players representing most of the Super League clubs met yesterday in Tel Aviv. Ramat Hasharon players wanted to postpone the strike by a few days because its scheduled game against Elitzur Netanya is supposed to include a special ceremony in honor of International Cancer Awareness Day, but their request was rejected.
All 67 Israeli players in the league agreed to the strike "by e-mail or text message," according to Nir Alon, chairman of the players association. "We came in good faith, but it didn't work, so maybe bad faith will work," said Elitzur Netanya captain Liad Suez-Karni. "We love the game and want to earn a living playing it, but they don't take us seriously."
The association's recent decision to increase the cap on players outside Europe from three to four players, starting with this season's playoffs, prompted the labor dispute. Daphna Shmulevitz, the Histadrut's legal counsel, explained that the agreement over the past two years was for two foreigners and two players from EU members. "If they want to make a change, let them come and explain it to us," she said.
Shay Shani, chairman of the Israel Basketball Association, commented: "Every government worker may exercise his right to strike, on condition the reason is justified. We met with the players before the association board convened. We heard them and some of the coaches and club chairmen who wanted six foreigners, like in the men's Super League. The decision taken was a compromise between conflicting demands."
With the strike looming, the players take to the court tonight, with Maccabi Ramat Hen hosting Elitzur Ramle, Ramat Hasharon visiting Maccabi Ashdod, Elitzur Rishon Letzion taking on Elitzur Holon in Ramle, Hapoel Rishon Letzion playing at home against Hapoel Tel Aviv, and Bnot Hasharon heading over to Elitzur Netanya.