Work Days Lost to Strikes Plunged in 2013

Labor disputes shorter, more partial than in previous years.

Despite renewed organizing drive by unions in recent months and some 20 formally declared labor disputes in both the public and private sectors, the number of work days lost to strikes plunged last year compared with 2012, the Economy Ministry reported on Monday.

According to Shlomo Yitzhaki, the ministry official who conducted the research, the number of work days lost to strikes dropped to just 52,274, from 462,960 in 2012 and 552,608 in 2011.

The number of full strikes declared actually grew by one, from 24 in 2012 to 25 last year, but the number of people participating in strikes dropped to 21,730, from 168,950. In 2011, 27 strikes involved 290,800 workers, the ministry said.

One reason for the decline was the preponderance of partial strikes called last year. Some 28 partial strikes were called by unions involving 42,998 workers, up from 17 involving 222,708 in 2012, the ministry’s figures showed.

Also in 2013, 72% of the strikes were short, with only 16% lasting one to three days, and 12% lasting more than two weeks.

Among the largest labor disputes were slowdowns at the government’s Israel Lands Authority, at the Housing and Construction Ministry and Foreign Ministry, and the state-owned ports. In the private sector, employees at the telecommunications company Hot and Migdal Insurance both staked slowdowns in a successful bid to win union recognition. Israel Chemicals also suffered major slowdowns in the year, the ministry said.

“What was particularly prominent during the year was the increase in strikes arising from the struggle of workers to win recognition,” the ministry said, saying about a fifth of strikes were linked to the issue.

According to the Economy Ministry data, 81% of all work days lost to strikes occurred in the business sector, but the public sector accounted for 68% of all strikes called.

Emil Salman