Other than Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there was one more person gleeful at the fall of Histadrut labor federation chair and the major labor unions. Her name is Vicki Knafo.
At the beginning of the week, Vicki Knafo started working at a Mitzpeh Ramon candle factory. She packs candles, but is not ashamed and is not apologizing: "I never thought I would get a job with a fancy title; beforehand I worked in cleaning and cooking".
About Peretz, she says "He causes damage to the state. Pull the plug? That only hurts the weaker classes."
A week ago, Knafo wrote a piece for the Hebrew-language daily, Ma'ariv. "They ask me," she recounts, "why I don't go show solidarity with the port workers; they tell me it's good there are strong unions because only they can bend Netanyahu's will. So maybe they can bend him, but the really weak won't get anything at all from that. These strong unions mostly take care of strong workers; they don't do anything for the weak."
And that's the way it is. The mega-strike and the tremendous financial damage it would have caused - the drop in business activity, the losses, the deals that wouldn't close and the concomitant danger of layoffs in the private sector, the injury to the sick, to schoolchildren, and to recipients of national insurance stipends - none of that matters to employees of the monopolies.
The strike is important to them because they are trying to preserve their privilege, their pay stub from the upper decile, their preferential pension conditions, their control of the monopoly, and the corrupt fact that union leaders aren't even actual workers.
This is true at the Ports Authority, the Israel Airports Authority, water utility Mekorot, Oil Refineries, Israel Electric Corporation, the banks, state-owned phone company Bezeq, Israel Aircraft Industries, Israel Military Industries and Rafael Armaments Development Authority.
Peretz talks about the damage to pensions for all workers, but the real aim is protect the strong. The monopoly unions have secured their members improved pension terms, while regular workers get regular pension terms. That is the solidarity of Amir Peretz and his friends. They hold labor sanctions now and they also wanted "the mother of all strikes" in order to keep the "three-year method" for themselves.
Under this method, wages can be artificially inflated in the final three years before retirement and they will serve as the basis for calculating an inflated pension - at the expense of other pension fund members.
Last week, the Finance Ministry reported that the Mekorot union got profligate perks for its members that cost the Makefet pension fund NIS 500 million. And it is far from the only one. Did any of these good people think for a moment about the pensions of workers in Mitzpeh Ramon candle factories?
Knafo continues. "They threaten us with a general strike. The state will lose; I will lose. If they were fighting to change something for the downtrodden, I would be the first to stand by their side. They live in their world; they fight their own battles. Their salaries rise, but there are more victims and more unemployed. The ports strike of a few hundred workers hurt thousands of industrial workers. So who wins and who loses?"
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