Mudslinging Begins as Labor MK Launches Campaign to Head Histadrut Labor Federation

Eitan Cabel says that during the incumbent chairman's tenure, the working class has become poorer and privatization has increased.

Labor MK Eitan Cabel launched a campaign to head the Histadrut labor federation on Monday, accusing incumbent chairman Ofer Eini of favoring big business and the wealthy over the workers.

"Eini has been revealed as no less than a collaborator who turned his back on the workers and betrayed his mission," Cabel said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Monday. "He abandoned those who chose him, favoring the wealthy, the employers and the treasury."

MK Eitan Cabel, April 16, 2012.
David Bachar

Cabel said that during Eini's tenure, the working class has become poorer and privatization has increased.

"The working person in the Israel of 2012 is forced to confront forces greater than himself that have stopped seeing him as a human being, but only as an assembly line with no soul or spirit," said Cabel, a former secretary general of the Labor Party.

Cabel is running on a joint ticket bringing together five factions: Kadima, Hadash and Meretz, along with former Histadrut leader Amir Peretz's Otzma movement and Ofek, comprised of former Likud members. Cabel's own party is endorsing Eini.

Cabel said he plans to turn the Histadrut into a strong workers organization that would represent all workers and protect them from the "government's destructive policies."

He also said he would work to achieve equal conditions for women and to prevent discrimination against Arabs.

"We will battle for equal pay, to create conditions that will enable a balance between work life and family life, and will guarantee that working women can fill the most senior positions," said Cabel, who also introduced Tel Aviv city councilwoman Tamar Zandberg, who is running for the chairmanship of the Na'amat women's organization.

Cabel also assailed Eini's personal conduct, promising to sell the apartment the Histadrut had bought for the current Histadrut leader in high-priced north Tel Aviv.

"I don't feel comfortable when I learn from the media that [Eini] has appointed his life partner to be chairman of the Histadrut education network and his brother to be chairman of a faction that gets tens of thousands of shekels, and I certainly don't feel comfortable with the fact that he lives in a luxury apartment in Tel Aviv while saying that he lives in Be'er Sheva," Cabel said. "When I assume the position I'll sell the fancy apartment. I'll continue to live in Rosh Ha'ayin."

Eini's staff rebuffed all of Cabel's claims.

"The Histadrut is the strongest social organization in the country and is responsible for a revolution in the standing of hundreds of thousands of workers," Eini's office said in a statement.

"It's strange that a person whose sole experience with labor relations was to cancel the collective agreement of Labor Party workers when he was secretary general, and who during all his years as an MK never initiated even one law to benefit workers, has the gall to preach, curse and besmirch," Eini's office said. "Cabel ought to internalize that the job of Histadrut chairman is not a political job arrangement."