Israeli Histadrut Union Ignores $2 Billion Ripoff

A new report reveals that the Israeli union federation the "Histadrut" ignored a huge theft of Palestinian worker wages and even dipped its own beak into the pickings. The report "State Robbery" says that the Israeli government took over $2 billion from the wages of Palestinian workers of the Occupied Territories for "benefits" for which no Palestinian worker was entitled. This went on despite a 1994 agreement with the Palestinian authority for the monies to go to a special fund for the benefit of those workers.

The Histadrut not only ignored this theft of worker wages, but did its own. It makes Palestinian workers who work in Israel pay an "organizing fee" even though it does not represent them in any way. Some of this money was given to a Palestinian union, but $30 million is still unaccounted for. The Histadrut also made Palestinian workers pay an extra two per cent tax to promote the training of Jewish immigrants, most of them from the former Soviet Union. They paid a tax to help Jewish workers replace them!

The report was authored by two Israeli two human rights groups, the Alternative Information Centre and Kav La'Oved. You can read the whole article about them by clicking here.

The Unknown History of the Histadrut

It was founded in 1920 and its mission was to lead a workers movement to colonize what was then called Palestine. In 1922 David Ben Gurion (later to become Israeli Prime Minister) said "How can we run our Zionist movement in such a way that [... we] will be able to carry out the conquest of the land by the Jewish worker, and which will find the resources to organise the massive immigration and settlement of workers through their own capabilities?"

The Histadrut owned and operated a number of enterprises, including the country's largest industrial businesses as well as the country's largest bank, Bank HaPoalim. The Histadrut also provided a comprehensive health care system. At one time it was Israel's largest employer. It owned its own newspaper.

It was set up to benefit Jewish workers only. It would not let Arab citizens of Israel join the union until 1959. Thousands did join to get access to health benefits though there were many complaints that Arabs were very poorly represented. When the health system was taken away from the Histadrut, Arab membership sharply declined.

In 2009 the backed the military operation in Gaza that resulted in the deaths of near 1,400 Palestinians. It was roundly condemned for this by the British Trades Union Congress.