Histadrut – the General Federation of Labor in Israel, declared a labor dispute with Suny Telecommunications, the official representative of Samsung in Israel, on Tuesday, claiming a deadlock and foot dragging by management in negotiations for a first collective bargaining agreement at the company. The Histadrut alleged that management was showing ongoing contempt for employee representatives and was trying to undermine their efforts to unionize, without any intent to conduct a real dialogue between the parties.

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Suny Telecom workers united at the Histadrut, November 2018 (Photograph courtesy of Histadrut press office)

As part of the labor dispute, a protest was held Tuesday morning outside the Samsung store on Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv. The protesters distributed informational leaflets to passersby and the company's customers. Employees are preparing to take industrial action once the cooling-off period imposed after declaring a labor dispute has come to an end.

According to Histadrut, since the workers unionized over a year ago, Suny's management, headed by CEO Moshe Perry, has employed stonewalling tactics to stall negotiations with Histadrut representatives. The Histadrut said the company’s goal was to undermine it and break up the union.

While declaring a labor dispute, the company's employees, backed by the Histadrut, concurrently launched a campaign to publicize their struggle against the violation of their rights, circulating a protest video on various social media platforms.

מאבק עובדי סאני

לסמארטפון של סמסונג יש אחלה קליטה.
להנהלה של היבואן סאני – פחות…
ההסתדרות תומכת במאבק עובדי חברת סאני תקשורת

פורסם על ידי ‏סמסונג מתקפל-העובדים לא‏ ב- יום רביעי, 20 בנובמבר 2019

Suny-Samsung employs some 260 people in Israel, mostly in sales and technical repair positions for all Samsung products: mobile devices, tablets, smart watches, accessories and more. The workers, employed at 25 branches across the country, as well as a licensed central lab, were unionized with the Histadrut a year ago, seeking to regulate and improve their employment conditions. Alongside their demand for job security, employees chose to join the Histadrut in the face of unfair and insufficient pay, including, among other things, frequent and nontransparent changes in payment practices. In addition, many employees complained about disparaging and unfair treatment by management.

Suny Telecom workers united at the Histadrut, November 2018 (Photograph courtesy of Histadrut press office)

Recently, the chairman of the Cellular, Internet and High Tech workers union, Yaki Halutzi, sent a letter to Samsung's global management, urging it to intervene promptly in the breakdown of labor relations at Suny Communications. In his letter Halutzi stated, "As a leading brand in Israel, I believe that Samsung would wish to avoid its good reputation being smeared by Suny's actions to thwart its workers democratic right to unionize." Halutzi requested Samsung's "intervention as soon as possible in order to stop Suny's actions against its workers." Stating that "The union urge you to demand the company exclusively representing your brand to comply with its legal and public obligation to accept the workers' basic democratic right to unionize."

Yaki Halutzi,chairman of the Cellular, Internet and High Tech Workers Union

In the wake of the declaration of a labor dispute, Halutzi issued a statement Tuesday, saying: “I call again on Suny’s management to respect the rights of its employees to unionize and regulate the terms of their employment. Samsung is a leading and prestigious brand and it would be a shame for it to be discredited because of the aggressive approach of Suny's management to its employees. The declaration of a labor dispute is only an initial step, Samsung employees and the Histadrut are determined in their struggle."

Most of Suny's business operations are based on being the sole licensed reseller of the Korean company Samsung to private customers. The two companies recently signed an extension of the agreement between them for an additional five years, until 2024. A potential intervention at the hands of Samsung’s global management in the labor relations crisis at Suny may have a decisive impact on the conduct of the local representative.

Suny posted record revenues of NIS 330 million in the third quarter of this year, up 4.4 percent from last year. However, the Calcalist website yesterday quoted Suny chairman Jacob Luxenburg, who is also the controlling shareholder in Suny’s parent company, Lapidot Capital, as saying, "So far we have invested in market share, and now that we have reached our goal, we will invest in profitability by streamlining and cutting direct and indirect expenses, including redundant jobs."

Suny Communications declined to comment on this matter.