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More Collective Agreements, Fewer Strikes: New Report Shows Improved Labor Relations in 2023

The rise in the number of labor agreements and the frequent intervention of the labor relations authority have significantly reduced work stoppages in the economy | Most of the 26 strikes that occurred over 2023 lasted less than a day

המרכז הרפואי קפלן ברחובות ביום שביתה כללית של ההסתדרות הרפואית, במחאה על אלימות נגד עובדי בריאות (צילום: דוברות המרכז הרפואי קפלן)
The shuttered Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot during a strike of the Israeli Medical Association to protest violence against healthcare workers. (Photo: Kaplan Medical Center Spokesperson)
By Nizzan Zvi Cohen

According to a new labor relations report published this month, Israel has seen a 50% decrease in strikes and work stoppages last year compared to 2022. Throughout the year, there were 16 full strikes involving around 73,000 participants, down from 32 full strikes in 2022 involving approximately 140,000 participants.

The dramatic decrease in strikes may be explained by the signing of 421 collective agreements in specific workplaces and 41 agreements across industries. In 2022, there were 406 specific agreements and 47 general agreements signed.

Along with the decreased number of strikes, 2023 also saw a decrease in workdays lost to strikes, with around 266,000 workdays lost compared to approximately 334,000 in 2022. No prolonged strikes occurred throughout 2022, and the majority of strikes lasted only up to a single workday. Shorter strikes were predominantly in the education and healthcare sectors.

Partial strikes also decreased in 2023, with 10 partial strikes involving around 26,000 participants, compared to 12 partial strikes involving 100,000 participants in 2022.

In total, 142 labor disputes were announced during 2023. Around 60% of those disputes were resolved through mediation, arbitration, or mutually agreed settlements.

Approximately 25% of the strikes in 2023 were due to wage disputes, resulting in a loss of about 56% of total workdays lost. Other reasons included changes in organizational structure, protest strikes due to violence against workers, and issues related to layoffs or contract employment.

The majority of strikes in 2023 were in the education sector (38%), followed by healthcare and social services (31%), public administration (13%), entertainment industry (6%), transportation services (6%), and information and communication services (6%).

“The decrease in strikes in 2023 points to the trend of stability and quiet in the industry in the labor relations system, and is evidence of the rising importance of internal agreements within factories and the establishment of mediation mechanisms,” said senior labor relations officer Rivka Werbner. She emphasized the role of the Labor Ministry’s labor relations unit in reaching workplace agreements, noting that the unit helped settle more than half of labor within 14 days without resorting to legal intervention.

Rivka Werbner, the primary authority at the Ministry of Labor’s labor relations unit. (Photo: Omer Cohen)
Rivka Werbner, the primary authority at the Ministry of Labor’s labor relations unit. (Photo: Omer Cohen)

In addition, a team of external experts, called the “mediators team,”  was established for the first time this year to assist in resolving disputes in both the private and public sectors.

Labor Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur signed three extension orders in 2023 related to wage payment during military operations, additional protection for reservists, and updating rehabilitation benefits. Five more extension orders were signed in 2024, addressing issues such as extending protection for reservists, granting leave for reservists’ spouses, and providing vacation entitlements for those who could not utilize them in 2023.

Labor Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Labor Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“We prioritize workers' rights in the economy,” said Ben-Tzur, emphasizing recent improvements such as raising the minimum wage and enhancing employment conditions. He outlined a vision of investing in workers to ensure a thriving job market and quality employment opportunities for all sectors.

He also stated that the Ministry of Labor is committed to mediation in labor disputes to facilitate fair working conditions and minimize work stoppages in the economy.

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