Rothman warns “political” response to labor federation walkout against revamp 2023

The far-right leader of the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee threatened the country’s largest labor union on Tuesday after it organized a walkout against the government’s court overhaul.

MK Simcha Rothman, a major architect of the revamp, told Army Radio that the Histadrut labor federation’s political strike the day before was “illegal” and hurt employees’ rights.

Rothman fears “political” labor federation response.

“It should come as no surprise that action would be taken against him in the same way, for political reasons,” said Religious Zionism party member Rothman

The far-right leader of the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee threatened the country’s largest labor union on Tuesday after it organized a walkout against the government’s court overhaul.

MK Simcha Rothman, a major architect of the revamp, told Army Radio that the Histadrut labor federation’s political strike the day before was “illegal” and hurt employees’ rights.

“It should come as no surprise that action would be taken against him in the same way, for political reasons,” said Religious Zionism party member Rothman.

Rothman’s statements, which also targeted strike-joining firms, did not specify such action.

The Histadrut launched the walkout Monday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for suggesting a stop to the government’s legislative push for court reforms. Firing Gallant sparked nationwide rallies against the measure, which had already drawn hundreds of thousands.

Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s principal international gateway, suspended flights for hours after the strike announcement. On Monday afternoon, businesses and banks nationwide joined the strike and closed. McDonald’s and Aroma closed, as did IT startups. Many hotel chains indicated they would strike, giving reduced services to customers.

Later that evening, Netanyahu declared that he was suspending the legislation to avert civil strife and allow negotiation with opposition parties. The Histadrut promptly called off the strike.

Rothman said Army Radio he was not unhappy by Netanyahu’s stance but disagreed with halting the measure.

He called the government’s halt “sensible” and the opposition “very irresponsible.”

Histadrut chair Arnon Bar-David had earlier hinted the federation may take action if no compromise judicial reform deal was achieved, but the strong union had not yet joined the protests against the far-reaching demands to limit the court. Histadrut strikes over public sector salaries and conditions have had a major influence on the economy.

Bar-David constantly called for compromise, but the Histadrut rejected to participate in a “national day of struggle” last month. This month saw a new salary contract.

The judicial amendments will allow parliament to overrule the Supreme Court and pass bills even if the court strikes them down. Among other major changes, the government will control the body that picks court justices.

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