Chairman of the Cellular, Internet and High-Tech Workers Union, Yaki Chalutzi, announced on Wednesday to ECI Telecom's management that the Histadrut has declared  a labor dispute in light of ECI management’s intention to lay off dozens of workers unilaterally.

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Yaki Chalutzi, chairman of the Cellular, Internet and High-Tech Workers Union. (Photograph courtesy of the subject)

 

Chairman of the ECI Employees’ Committee, Ofir Levy, said: "We will not be able to run the company while the workers are being trampled, especially during such a sensitive period. On-the-ground conduct demonstrates that rather than holding fair negotiations, management chooses to take their time and surprise employees. We are prepared for any scenario and will respond harshly to any violation of workers' rights, as we have done in the past.”

In recent weeks, company management has held negotiations with the employees' committee and representatives of the Histadrut, the former of which presented a policy of budget cuts in light of ECI’s merger with American companyRibbon, and its economic situation in response to  the COVID-19 crisis. According to the Levy, management refused to discuss the terms of retirement and dismissal of employees as part of the move, "and engaged in diverting the discussion to tangential issues, concealing information and blurring their [management’s] true intentions."

The Histadrut and the committee presented alternative budget cutting measures to management, including an option of both parties agreeing to a temporary salary reduction of 10% for two months. Despite this, the committee has learned that the company is targeting dozens of employees for dismissal, unilaterally.

In conjunction with  declaration of the labor dispute, the employees' committee has hired the services of Professor Yaron Zelicha, who will provide advice after reviewing the company's budgetary data.

Workers' rally in after ECI's union declared a labor dispute, February 2020. Photograph: Histadrut

ECI is involved in communications and networking, and employs around 800 people mainly in Petah Tikva and a development center in Be'er Sheva. The company's employees were incorporated into the Histadrut in 2016 with a groundbreaking collective bargaining agreement, following  a long struggle which included violent measures against striking workers.