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Histadrut Ha-Ovedim Ha-Le'ummit

HISTADRUT HA-OVEDIM HA-LE'UMMIT

HISTADRUT HA-OVEDIM HA-LE'UMMIT ("National Labor Federation"), organization founded in Jerusalem in 1934. It came into being as a result of a basic clash of outlooks between *Revisionist workers and the *Histadrut. The Revisionists criticized the Histadrut for being socialist and a class organ, demanded that it confine itself to trade union organization, and charged it with discriminating in the allocation of employment against members of the Revisionist Labor Bloc, which emphasized the national rather than the class interests of the workers.

In 1930, the convention of the Revisionist Labor Bloc decided to leave the Histadrut and founded Irgun Ovedei ha-Ẓohar u-Vetar (the Organization of Revisionists and Betar Workers) in Palestine, which, in 1934, became the Histradut ha-Ovedim ha-Le'ummit. Its purpose, according to its constitution, was to "unite all national workers in Palestine loyal to the principle of the establishment of the Jewish state in all of Palestine." It advocated compulsory national arbitration in all labor disputes, the establishment of neutral labor exchanges, the entrenchment of Jewish labor, fair conditions for the worker, and the development of good relations between workers and employers. Its symbol was the blue and white flag (in contradistinction to the red flag used by the Histadrut); its anthem was "*Ha-Tikvah," not the "Internationale"; and it chose the anniversary of Herzl's death, the 20th of Tammuz, rather than the First of May, as its annual workers' holiday.

Later the National Labor Federation became unaffiliated with any political party. In 1970 it had about 80,000 members. It stressed the need for a complete separation between the functions of the employer and those of the trade union, and opposed the combination of the two functions in the Histadrut, whose economic arm, Ḥevrat ha-Ovedim, owned many enterprises employing workers whose interests are represented by the Histadrut's trade union department. Histadrut ha-Ovedim ha-Le'ummit advocates the establishment of a national institution for compulsory arbitration in labor disputes and of nationwide trade unions whose elected organs will decide their policies independently of political party decisions. It is in favor of the provision of basic social services, such as medical care, by the state and the enactment of pensions and unemployment insurance laws.

The trades union department of the federation has negotiated labor contracts with more than a hundred concerns employing some 8,000 workers. It has insurance and pension funds, a labor-disputes fund, an unemployment fund, a members' credit fund, a mutual loan fund, and a disablement fund. The National Workers' Sick Fund, Kuppat Ḥolim le-Ovedim Le'ummiyyim, now called Kuppat Ḥolim Le'ummit, provides medical care for over 220,000 persons in over 100 clinics, including some in Druze villages, and maintains laboratories.

Sela, the federation's housing company, has constructed thousands of apartments for newcomers and veterans, shopping centers, synagogues, and public buildings, some as part of government housing projects. The federation runs a guest-house and holiday company, Beri'on, which owns guesthouses and convalescent homes. It also owns two cooperative building companies. Merkaz ha-Avodah and Ha-Massad. Its youth wing, Ha-No'ar ha-Oved ve-ha-Lomed ha-Le'ummi (the National Working and Student Youth Association), runs youth clubs in cities, suburbs, and immigrant centers. The organization also runs day care centers under the name Nili. The supreme body of the federation is the National Conference, which meets once every five years, its 251 delegates being elected directly on a personal basis by secret ballot. Workers' councils in each locality are elected in the same way. The conference elects a national committee, an executive committee, a control committee, and a members' court. The secretary-general of the federation in 1970 was Eliezer Shostak and in 2005 Yiẓḥak Russo.

In 1995, under the new health law, the Kuppat Ḥolim was separated from the Histadrut. Furthermore under a reorganization program, the workers' councils were abolished and, instead, regional service centers were established. The idea was that now the organization representative would visit the worker, and not vice versa. In addition, new cooperative agreements were signed between the Histadrut ha-Ovedim and employers, including human resource companies. Since that time new members have joined the organization. In 2005 the Histadrut ha-Ovedim had 350 employees.

bibliography:

Y. Ophir, Sefer ha-Oved ha-Le'ummi (1959); E. Shostak, Din ve-Ḥeshbon la-Ve'idah ha-Aḥat-Esreh (1969); F. Zweig, The Israeli Worker… (1959). website: www.histadrut.net.

[David Jutan /

Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]

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