“Koach La Ovdim – Democratic Workers’ Organization” is a new general trade union which unites workers from a variety of fields. The organization was founded in 2007 as an initiative of several leading activists in the field of workers’ rights and workers’ struggles and has been since growing rapidly, unionizing in its ranks thousands of workers.
Koach la ovdim aims are:
- To assist unorganized workers in getting organized in their workplace both in the public and the private sector.
- To promote the existence of organized labor in the Israeli economy.
- To wage an uncompromising struggle in the defense of workers’ rights and the improvement of their pay and working conditions.
- To work for the establishment of social and economic justice, a welfare state and industrial democracy.
The organization is based on a democratic structure in which the power is vested in the hands of the workers. “Koach La Ovdim” believes in social and economic equality, as well as equality between men and women, Arabs and Jews and all the sectors of Israeli society.
- The signing of a collective agreement between the ‘koach la ovdim Jerusalem Cinematheque workers branch’ and the Cinematheque management.
- The organization attained several legal precedents on the right to organize and in the defense of workers.
- As a result of a petition by “Koach La Ovdim” the National Labour Tribunal issued a ruling which states that an employer is bound to negotiate with a trade union with the aim of reaching a collective agreement. This ruling has become a binding precedent.
- The successful management of one of the longest and largest strikes in the Israeli economy during 2009 – the strike of the academic staff of the ‘Open University which is organized as ‘koach la ovdim open university branch’. The aim of the strike was achieved, and the management finally agreed to negotiate a collective agreement.
- The attainment of substantial improvements to the wages of thousands of care-workers at day-care centers under the supervision of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce that are organized as a ‘Koach La Ovdim union’, (a wage increment costing more than 13 million NIS per year.)
Professionals in the service of the workers
“Koach La Ovdim has professional teams in the fields of organization, legal advice, communications etc. The leaders of the organization are experienced people who have been involved in many workers’ struggles. The organization has at its disposal scores of dedicated activists all of whom are members of the organization and are committed to its aims and to the success of the workers that are organizing within its framework.
Solidarity and a genuine democracy
Today “Koach La Ovdim” has thousands of due-paying members. Among them there are men and women, Arabs and Jews, speakers of Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Amharic and Spanish; academics and blue-collar workers employed in physically demanding jobs. More than half of the members are women. Furthermore, the women members constitute more than half of the “Representatives’ Assembly” of “Koach La Ovdim”, which is the supreme institution of the organization. The organization is committed to its values and to its members, and not to any alien interests which are contradicted to those of the working class.
In “Koach La Ovdim” all the members are equal and have an equal right to vote, to be elected and to influence the organization. We believe in solidarity amongst all the workers in their workplace and in the working class as a whole. That is why we encourage our members to organize on the basis of their workplace and not on the basis of their profession or any other division. We believe that common action by workers from different professions within the framework of the same workplace will in the end benefit all the workers and will enable workers from all the various sectors to achieve more. Furthermore, we believe that it is the duty of the stronger workers to aid their companions whose employment status is weaker. Therefore ‘Koach La Ovdim’ members who are directly employed by the employer and the workers that are employed by a subcontractor in the same workplace will be organized in “Koach La Ovdim” within the same branch, waging together a joint struggle for their status, pay and work conditions.