GENEVA (Jun. 6)
Israel expects the Arab states will do their utmost to get the alleged mistreatment of Palestinian workers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on the agenda of the annual conference of the International Labor Organization, which opens here Wednesday.
But the New York-based Jewish Labor Committee plans to submit a study of its own charging “massive trade union violations” by the countries of the Arab League.
Some 2,000 delegates from the U.N. agency’s 150 member states will attend the 76th session of the International Labor Conference, which ends June 28. They include government officials, employers and workers.
According to the ILO’s newsletter, economic recovery, employment, minority rights, night work and industrial safety top the agenda. But Middle East politics is sure to enter in somewhere.
According to Rafael Walden, counselor of the Israeli mission to the United Nations European headquarters here, the Arab states will introduce a draft resolution calling for a special committee to study labor conditions in the Israeli-administered territories.
But there are no indications so far of a Palestine Liberation Organization bid for full membership in the ILO, Walden told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
A PLO request last month for full membership in the World Health Organization was deferred for a year, after the United States objected.
KUWAITI RESOLUTION REJECTED
The Arabs suffered another setback last week when the ILO’s governing body rejected a Kuwaiti resolution calling for a special session during the ILO conference devoted to the treatment of workers in the administered territories.
Nevertheless, the ILO’s director general, Michel Hansenne, undertook to inform the Israeli government of the governing body’s concern over the condition of Arab workers.
An appendix to the director general’s report to the conference, which the ILO released on May 16, accuses Israel of employment discrimination against Arab workers and inequities in providing them with social benefits.
It also charged Israel with “violation of trade union rights” and interference in and repression of trade union activities in the territories.
The report was based on an ILO fact-finding mission to the region.
In New York, the Jewish Labor Committee announced Tuesday that its examination of labor widespread violations of trade union rights.
According to JLC President Herb Magidson, the study found that while government-controlled trade unions exist, independent unions are banned. In some of the countries, all trade unions are outlawed.
In a number of them, strikes are legally punishable by death, the JLC report says.
Magidson called on the ILO to “refrain from political attacks on the State of Israel” and take note instead “of massive trade union violations by countries affiliated with the League of Arab States.”