WAC-MAAN opposes the new government's economic agenda, which zeroes in on organized labor.
by Assaf Adiv
Binyamin Netanyahu intends to exploit the anti-social-welfare composition of his future coalition, featuring Yair Lapid, to take down organized labor. With the array of forces in the new Knesset, he sees an opportunity to implement the public sector reforms of which he and his cronies have been dreaming for at least a decade.
His addition of Uri Yogev to the team for the new government's economic program signals the intended direction. In 2003-2004, Yogev, who at the time ran the budget division of the Ministry of Finance, led the attack by Finance Minister Netanyahu against organized labor and the Histadrut. That coalition, which included the Likud under Sharon and Shinui under Tommy Lapid, privatized the pension funds and the ports and made drastic cutbacks in social allowances for the elderly, people with disabilities, children, and the unemployed. Now Netanyahu is working to recreate the focus of that era, together with Yair Lapid.
The public sector is the primary target of the structural changes Netanyahu is striving for. The aim is to undermine the civil service, shrink it and insofar as possible privatize it, drastically reducing the wages of its workforce.
The excuse will be the forklift operator at the port of Ashdod who earns NIS 70,000 a month. The real victims will be the social workers, a third of whom earn less than the average wage. They will all be hit with a reduction in the salary increment they were promised, they will pay taxes on their continuing professional education stipends, they will lose their job security. This policy will smash lower-ranking workers and increase existing gaps in pay.
The second Netanyahu government was launched in 2009 with the aid of Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini, who brought along Barak and the Labor Party as a dowry and lent stability to Netanyahu's regime. Eini and the Histadrut are on the outside this time, and Lapid and Bennett can give the Likud the required majority to force these changes, even if the Histadrut opposes them.
Eini has already announced his intention to oppose this program with everything he's got, but his popularity is gone thanks to the knee-jerk support he has given to corruption-ridden committees and inflated salary arrangements. Eini has alienated hundreds of thousands of poor workers, the self-employed and the middle class, who are suffering continual erosion in earnings and status, and has done egregious harm to the public image of trade unions and organized labor.
WAC-MAAN utterly opposes Netanyahu's program and will join every initiative against the plans to damage organized labor and privatize public services. WAC-MAAN has been engaged for years in democratic labor-organizing in unorganized sectors, and encourages reforms in Histadrut labor unions like that of the social workers. WAC-MAAN offers an alternative political / economic / social agenda stressing peace, reductions in the inflated defense budget, an end to support for settlements, and an equal allocation of resources.
Translate from Hebrew by Deborah Reich