Israel: Israeli dockers organise wildcat strike

International appeal

The dockers’ struggle against privatization has come to a crucial point. The workers declared an unlimited wildcat strike beginning the evening of February 2nd. The Histadrut – Trade Union Federation – does not support the workers’ critical step.

About half a year ago the workers’ struggle against the planned privatization was escalated, when the government has passed a law which virtually sealed the fate of the docks. The workers went on strike, which was soon declared illegal by the Labor Court, and the Histadrut has publicly betrayed the workers, and denounced their actions. However, the dockers, being one of the most militant and conscious sectors, knew what’s on stake and continued with a courageous fight for a few days till the 5th of August. They caused noticeable losses to the Israeli capitalists, but their isolation resulted in a compromise that managed to officially postpone the privatization till February 17th, while the government pleads to use the time for renewed negotiations. The ruling class was in fact guaranteed with half a year of silence from the dockers, and the government began to prepare the transfer of ownership, using the Histadrut official acceptance of the privatization as a strong weapon against the workers. The workers tried to prepare for the next phase of the struggle, replacing some of their officials who were responsible for defeatist positions. Only the negotiations were involving the same old officials, and explicitly dealing already with the terms of privatization.

By January, separate governmental profit-based companies were registered, to serve as transitional vessels, to be handed out to a group of capitalists in the future. Being pushed by the enormous anger of the majority of dockers, the Workers’ Committees in the docks declared an unlimited wildcat strike to take place 24 hours after the announcement (the law obliges workers to warn 14 days ahead), beginning February 2nd evening. The Histadrut officials were quicker than the government to categorically reject the workers’ move. The government in its turn praised the Histadrut for playing its pacifying role, and could only be sorry for the fact that the Histadrut chairman is stuck in Nepal because of the recent coup there. Breaking the strike and continuing along with their plans will be an essential goal for the Israeli ruling class. It is determent to use the entire state apparatus to finally crush this militant sector of workers, hoping for a privatization domino – once the dockers will go down, it’ll be easier to take down the axe over the next ones on the list – Electricity, Water, Trains, Petrol Distillation, Banks, Mail – smashing completely all remnants of trade union organised workers in the state owned industry.

The majority of dockers are willing to fight and sacrifice gravely. Unfortunately, out of despair caused primarily due to the reactionary role of the rotten leadership of the trade union, the workers’ officials have accepted practically the privatization as an inevitable result, and might even give up the strike action. Only a fierce resistance by the workers, which will be able to break the isolation imposed on them by their own union, and connect with the struggles of workers against other privatizations, could win this crucial battle. The dockers need every support they could get against the all-out attack they’re facing.

The workers are left isolated and betrayed by their own union in this crucial battle.

Please send your solidarity letters to or fax +972 3 5474006.

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February 2005