The Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court issued a temporary injunction last week preventing 10Bis, one of Israel’s largest food delivery companies, from firing union leader Adam Steiner. Judge Hadas Yahalom also ruled that the company, which operates within the gig economy, must continue to provide Steiner with shifts.

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The employees of 10Bis formed a union in October 2020 through the Histadrut, Israel’s federation of trade unions. When the company refused to recognize the union, a lengthy and complicated legal battle began. In August 2021, the Labor Court ruled that the Histadrut indeed represented 10Bis workers and found that 10Bis had illegally penalized leaders of the unionization effort. 10Bis was ordered to pay 80,000 shekels ($25,880) in damages.

10Bis refused to pay and appealed the verdict to the National Labor Court. In those hearings, the company argued that the required compensation should be reduced, since 10Bis had not fired Steiner. A few days after the hearing, as both parties awaited the verdict on the appeal, 10Bis actually did attempt to dismiss Steiner. The Histadrut quickly petitioned to stop Steiner’s dismissal.

The Tel Aviv Labor Court discussed the petition and ultimately decided to issue the temporary injunction.

“It is impossible to ignore the fact that we are at a stage where the regional court has rules to recognize the union, and that there is a pending appeal in the National Court, and the parties are awaiting the verdict. This is a critical stage in the unionization [process],” wrote Judge Yahalom in the decision.

The Histadrut was represented at the hearing by attorneys Anat Gutman, who is general counsel for the Histadrut’s division of labor unions, and Adi Golan.

“This is an important decision for all workers in the food delivery industry. The 10Bis couriers’ union is a groundbreaking and innovative organization in an industry that has not yet recognized unions,” Gutman said.

“The couriers in this industry, which is largely based on the gig economy, are usually employed as individual workers who do not know each other, and have never experienced the benefits of organized labor,” she went on. “The importance of the decision is actually the recognition that this union should be given an opportunity and strengthened, and the decision of the court that prevented the dismissal of the head of the committee is intended for that purpose exactly.”

Amichai Stinger, director general for the Histadrut’s labor union division, also expressed his support for the ruling.

“We are very pleased that the court has understood the obvious: it is forbidden to penalize employees who lead the union,” he said.

“Of course the union of young, disadvantaged 10Bis workers, who have been fighting for more than a year for their right to unionization and to improve their working conditions, were justified,” Stinger continued. “The Histadrut will continue to defend the rights of unions everywhere, all the more so for 10Bis workers.”

The move was also applauded by HaNoar HaOved v’HaLomed (NOAL), one of Israel’s largest youth movements, which serves as the legal representative for working youth in Israel.

“More than a year after the union was declared, 10Bis continues in its operation to try to thwart the union,” said Uri Matoki, the chair of NOAL’s division of trade unions.

“Instead of sitting down to negotiate in good faith and dealing with problems raised by the couriers, such as safety during winter weather and general rights, the management continues to stall in courts,” Matoki said. “We will continue to have the back of Israel’s young workers.”

10Bis downplayed the significance of the decision, writing in a statement: “The court has clearly determined that the chair of the union did not meet the terms of the employment contract and that he was unable to provide a satisfactory explanation for the claims made against him regarding the many weeks in which he did not meet the minimum requirements of the workplace. We emphasize that this is only a temporary decision. The court gave him another option to explain some of the violations in the main proceedings, which will take place at the end of January. It should be noted that at no point in the ruling was the Histadrut’s claim – that he was fired as a result of harassment for being active on the workers’ union – accepted.”

10Bis was represented in court by Dafna Smolvich.

This article was translated from Hebrew by Leah Schwartz.