Israeli workers win general strike, 2012


Obtain rights for contracted workers such as equal pay, pensions, and health benefits.

Time period

8 February, 2012 to 12 February, 2012


Jump to case narrative

Methods in 1st segment

Methods in 2nd segment

Methods in 3rd segment

Methods in 4th segment

Methods in 5th segment

Methods in 6th segment

Additional methods (Timing Unknown)

Segment Length

Approximately 16 hours


Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel, leader: Ofer Eini)


Not known

External allies

Not known

Involvement of social elites

Not known


Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Finance Ministry

Nonviolent responses of opponent


Campaigner violence


Repressive Violence



Economic Justice



Group characterization

labor activists
Contracted workers

Groups in 1st Segment

Contracted workers

Segment Length

Approximately 16 hours

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

5 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


2 out of 3 points

Total points

8 out of 10 points

Database Narrative

In February 2012, Israel saw its first general strike in five years.  Histadrut, the General Federation of Labor in Israel, organized a general strike to fight for the rights of contracted workers. The number of employees who worked for contractors rather than direct employers had grown steadily and immensely in Israel.  Because of this outsourcing approximately 250,000 Israeli workers had lost their benefits and pensions.  These workers were also paid on average thirty percent less than workers who were hired directly doing the same or similar jobs. 

Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini said in an interview, “We all used to work at unionized workplaces, which allowed us to age with dignity with a pension and everything. But now, 30 years have gone by, and today most employment in Israel is in all kinds of ways. These workers are all our children, the next generation.” 

In January 2012, Eini and the rest of the organization attempted to hold a general strike but due to widespread “havoc and confusion” stopped it very quickly. On February 5, a series of unproductive negotiation meetings ended. 

The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce petitioned the High Court of Justice on 7 February to stop the planned strike but the court rejected the petition. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz deemed the strike “unnecessary.” 

Workers began their strike on the morning of 8 February, closing banks, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, buses, railways, courts, national parks, local authorities, and government ministries. Public hospitals and Magen David Adom, the medical emergency response service, operated on shortened schedules. The seaports as well as Ben Gurion Airport were closed from six o’clock a.m. to noon.  

Later in the day on 8 February the Histadrut and the Coordinating Bureau of Economic Organizations agreed that full-time outsourced workers who have been employed for at least one year had to be hired directly by their employer rather than continuing to be contracted. In addition they would receive the same salaries and benefits of all other employees. This private sector agreement gave labor leader Ofer Eini greater bargaining power in his meetings with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.  

Striking workers held banners in front of the Finance Ministry building as they called for their rights. Four thousand travelers were unable to fly from Ben Gurion airport until a court order mandated that flights resume. Garbage began to pile in the streets as the strike continued, and basic daily jobs simply were not done.  

Finally on 12 February Yuval Steinitz and Ofer Eini reached a compromise. Steinitz agreed to raise the minimum wage for contract workers and give them benefits including employer participation in savings plans, larger employer participation in pension funds, and subsidized meals. A small percentage of contract workers would become directly employed and a team would be established to secure rights of contract workers. 

Eini agreed that Histadrut would cease any industrial action for a minimum of three years on the subject of employment for contract workers who were either cleaners or security guards. Considering both the private and public sectors, the five-day strike was largely a success for the workers.


Kershner, Isabel. "Strike Ends As Israel And Unions Reach Pact." The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2013.

Ben-David, Calev, and Gwen Ackerman. "Israeli Labor Court to Rule on General Strike That Shut Exchange." Bloomberg Business Week. Bloomberg L.P., 10 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. <>.

Ben Gedalyahu, Tzvi. "Prepare for General Strike and Hope for the Best - Inside Israel - News - Israel National News." Israel National News. Arutz Sheva, 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. <>.

Bior, Haim. "Israeli Workers Open General Strike, Disrupting Airport and Economy." Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd., 8 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. <>.

Bronner, Ethan. "Contract Jobs Spur Union To Start Strike Across Israe." The New York Times, 8 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. <>.

"General Strike to Start Wednesday." Globes-Israel's Business Arena. GLOBES, 6 Feb.2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. <>.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Jessica Seigel, 21/04/2013