By Hanna Zohar, Coordinator for Palestinian Workers
On June 13th, 2013, a verdict was reached regarding the case of Palestinian workers employed in a quarry in Mishor Adumim by Even Bar Company, owned by Eyal Yona (brother to Boaz Yona, from the Heftziba affair). In this ruling, Judge Daniel Goldberg from the regional labor court in Jerusalem accepted almost all of the claims made by the workers. The verdict tells the story of years of systematic abuse due to the workers being “Palestinians from the Territories”: long periods of unpaid salary, lack of payment of minimum wage, and more. The defendants attempted to find legal excuses for all of the above.
Judge Goldberg’s ruling was based on a precedent Kav LaOved had set previously in a High Court of Justice ruling regarding Kav LaOved and Histadrut Labor Federation against the National Labor Court vis-à-vis the requirement of settlement employers to pay Palestinian workers equal wages to those of Israeli workers, in accordance with Israeli labor laws.
Kav LaOved began working on this particular case regarding Mishor Adumim and Even Bar Company in 2006, led by Saloa Alinat, then coordinator for Palestinians working in Israel and the settlements, alongside the Jericho trade unions. Prolonged negotiation with the company’s representatives, aimed at securing compensation for unpaid wages, was ultimately unsuccessful. Hence, the workers were introduced to attorney Ofir Ronen, who filed the claim in early 2008.
During the process, some of the workers gave up their claim, instead agreeing to settle for very small sums offered by the company. However, ten out of the 35 workers carried on with the lawsuit. After five years of legal proceedings, the workers finally received the long awaited verdict described above, though it is unclear whether the company will pay, as it may not continue to exist. If the company closes, the National Insurance Institute will have to bear the expenses, while Eyal Yona and his partners will have found a way to keep their profits.