Israel: Museum workers of Weitzman Institute attacked

Solidarity appeal

On the 16th of December, a protest of museum workers from the Wietzman Institute was violently attacked by private security guards and some of the workers’ representatives were arrested by the Israeli police. The protest was held as part of the struggle of the workers for their right to unionise and against the lock-out imposed on them by the management of the Davidson Foundation and the Wietzman institute.

A group of workers and activists from the “Power to the Workers” organization who came to protest during a management meeting at their workplace were met with harsh violence, resulting in serious injuries. One activist had a knee broken. A private security company prevented the workers entering their workplace, although Israeli law recognises the right of the workers to be present at their workplace during a labour dispute. The Israeli police came during the protest, to arrest protesting workers, not security company bullies.

This violent act is typical of the union-busting methods of the management of the Wietzman Institute, which is not ready to recognize the workers right to organize.

We ask CWI and other activists to send protest letters, particularly from academic workers, university students and museum workers and trade unionists against the lock-out and anti-union policies, calling for immediate recognition of the workers union, and for a series of negotiation meetings to be organised immediately.

Even individual letters from scientists, professors etc. will help put pressure on the management.

Protest letters can be sent to

With a copy to

Background to this dispute

In recent months around 40 science museum workers, in the Weizmann institute of science (an elite academic institute) have organized and joined “Power to the Workers”, a relatively new organisation and in some workplaces, a union.

The workers are hired by “Davidson Foundation”, which acts as an outsourcing contractor, dividing the workforce between outsourced museum workers and the organized workers of “Weizmann institute”.

The workers have tried appealing to the management for negotiations but the management consistently refuses to do so and even refuses to acknowledge the existence of the union.

Only after a series of public demonstrations and a formal declaration of a labour dispute did management agree to sit and talk with the workers but stressed that they were not meeting them as union representatives. During both of the meetings that were held management explicitly stressed that they would not negotiate nor would they accept a workers union in the Davidson foundation.

The unionised workers, who constitute a majority of the workforce in the museum, agreed to reveal their names to management. Once they were exposed, the workers were constantly harassed by the management. Some workers discovered that management was attempting to severely reduce the shifts that were normally assigned to them in favour of other employees who did not join the union. One of the workers was even fired without his knowledge and was reinstated only through the intervention of a lawyer representing the union.

As a result of the consistent attempts to break the workers’ union, in addition to the fact that management is again evading every request to negotiate, the workers decided to act. After attempting to resolve the matter peacefully for more than 90 days the workers halted their work in the museum for an hour. In reaction management demanded that the workers discontinue their stike and refrain from any similar actions in the future. The workers of course could not agree to such a commitment. When the unionized workers came to the museum they were told that they would no longer work as long as they refused to commit to refrain from any future strike. Those who protested the management’s decision on the museum grounds are as of now denied access to the Weizmann institute, which prevents them from working in the museum. Due to this lock-out all work in the museum is being done directly by management.

Ma’avak Sotziolisty (Socialist Struggle), CWI in Israel, is involved both in the struggle and in “Power to the Workers”.

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November 2008