Suny Telecommunications, the official distributor of Samsung products in Israel, forcibly prevented union chairperson Tal Shitrit from entering company headquarters in Petach Tikva on Thursday night. Shitrit arrived at the offices intending to speak with company workers, who have recently been engaged in a labor dispute against management and are expected to strike starting next week. Upon arrival at Suny headquarters, Shitrit found the company's chief security officer, who claims that he was instructed to block Shitrit's entrance. When Shitrit attempted to enter, he was blocked by two security guards who tackled him to the floor.
In a video obtained by Davar, the security guards can be seen dragging Shitrit out of the building, with a visible head wound. The violence against Shitrit comes in the context of past violations of union rights by Samsung around the world, and the recent conviction of past Samsung CEO for sabotaging union activities.
Suny 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, unionized under the Histadrut labor organization a year ago. Two weeks ago, they declared a labor dispute following claims that company management was employing union-busting tactics, such as stonewalling in negotiations, with the goal of failing to reach a labor agreement.
Stonewalling labor negotiations has been illegal since 2009, when a law passed in Israel that requires management to negotiate in good faith with any bargaining body that a third or more of the workers have signed with. The Suny union also claims that management has previously prevented union representatives from meeting workers in Suny branches and headquarters, which is also a violation of Israeli labor law.
Just recently, past Samsung Electronics CEO Lee Sang-Hoon was convicted and sentenced to eighteen months in prison for illegal anti-union measures at Samsung, including stonewalling negotiations, closing subsidiaries where union activity was gaining traction, and collecting sensitive information on union activists. In wake of the conviction, Samsung stated, “We humbly accept that the companies’ understanding and view towards labor unions in the past fell short of society’s expectations.”
Last month Yaki Halutzi, the chairman of the Cellular, Internet and High Tech workers union within the Histadrut, called on Samsung Electronics to intervene in Suny's labor practices, as the international brand that Suny represents. The International Trade Union Confederation also reached out to Samsung International, and received affirmation that Samsung would act to ensure that Suny upholds the right to unionize.
Suny released the following statement regarding Thursday's events: "Histadrut officers arrived at Suny headquarters yesterday without prior notification, which is required by law, and forcibly entered the company building. Histadrut representatives broke into the building and were removed by police, and they were notified that their actions were against the law. As the company clarified to the Histadrut, the company will allow them entrance with prior notification as the law requires."