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June 3—The Histadrut National Labor Federation has petitioned the Tel Aviv District Labor Court to disband an internal committee it says was established by Amdocs Ltd. to thwart its employees' unionization.
Establishing an internal committee to represent workers in place of a union has become the “method of choice” for workplaces seeking to circumvent employees' attempts to organize, a Histadrut official told Bloomberg BNA May 30. A positive ruling against Amdocs would serve as a precedent against all similar actions, he said.
“This is a clever and sophisticated way of acting, designed to evade the Pelephone Communications Ltd. ruling,” the petition stated, referring to the National Labor Court's previous decision barring employers from interfering, directly or indirectly, in the organizing actions of their workers.
The Histadrut petition, filed May 21, emphasizes that the internal committee is an “impostor,” ostensibly aimed at “changing the nature of employer-employee relations without a collective agreement.” In reality, it is “just an attempt to forestall organization by the Histadrut,” the union said.
“The goals of the internal committee are to preserve the current regime of personal contracts and the resulting power gap,” the petition continues. “This is the employer's interest, not that of a workers' organization.”
The Histadrut, Israel's largest labor federation, asked the court to issue an injunction instructing Amdocs' management not to interfere with unionization attempts, not to recognize the internal committee as a representative body and not to conduct collective negotiations with it. The internal committee should also be ordered to refrain from behaving like a workers' organization, Histadrut said, “because it is not one."
Israel's veteran cellphone companies—Menorah Mivtachim Holdings Ltd., Sderot-Cohen & Sons Transport and Tempo Beer Industries—have adopted similar tactics, the petition charged. In some cases, a clear connection was proven between the internal committee and management, but in all cases management encouraged the internal committees' establishment, according to Histadrut.
Amdocs created the internal committee within 72 hours of Histadrut's first, open unionization attempts, the petition said, and the committee immediately notified Amdocs management that it had already obtained the signatures of a third of the company's workers, as required by law to claim their representation.
“In response to the organization measures, an internal committee was suddenly established in a smooth, elaborate and meticulous way,” according to the petition. “This was not instinctive, but a planned, sophisticated and well-calculated reaction. Its professional character raises suspicions that Amdocs management had a guiding hand in planning an immediate, strong and professional counter-response.”
Amdocs management responded that it was “examining the question of representation with the relevant parties.”
Amdocs is a multinational company providing IT systems for communications companies and employs approximately 4,500 workers in Israel.
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The Histadrut petition is available in Hebrew here.
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