Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Seeds of Peace
We care about the wellbeing of our workers, says the son of the owner of a recycling factory at the Nizzane Ha Shalom (‘Seeds of Peace’) Industrial Zone at the West Bank. However, he does admit that one of his workers’ hand was cut off in an accident with a carton cutter. Other workers complain that they fell ill after processing pharmaceutical waste.
Until the second Intifadah, many Palestinians worked in Israel. Especially since the bulding of the so-called security wall, quite a lot of Israeli employers have moved their factories to settlements at the West Bank (which are considered illegal by international law). They operate in a legal grey area. According to a recent Israeli High Court ruling (October 2007), they should pay their workers the Israeli minimum wage and apply all other Israeli labour law regulations, but enforcement is very weak.
The documentary ‘Seeds of Peace’, which was made with the support of FNV Mondiaal, shows how workers in these industrial zones try to organise to improve their conditions. This is not easy: official unions are not as supportive as they could be, and a group of workers that formed a workers’ committee was fired soon after.
Seeds of Peace will be screened on 11 February at a FNV conference in Rotterdam on the support Dutch unions can give to workers and unions in Israel and Palestine.
UPDATE - Due to developments in Gaza, partner organisations from Palestine are unable to attend the conference on 11 February. The FNV has therefore postponed the conference.