Background

Israeli collective labour relations confer a unique status on unions that are considered to be representative unions. In order for a union to meet the representativeness requirement, its membership must comprise the majority of the workplace's unionised employees, which must constitute at least one-third of employees in the workplace.

The unique status of representativeness conveys on a union the power to enter into a binding collective agreement with the employer that will apply to all of the employees included in the agreement.

Decision

In Koach La Ovdim – Democratic Workers' Organization v CLP Industries Ltd (Collective Appeal (National) 51407-07-15, October 7 2016) the National Labour Court stated that the recognition of a union's representativeness must be followed by a period of stability in order to give the union and the employer an opportunity to establish a relationship of trust and cooperation, without the issue of representativeness being constantly challenged.

This period of stability cannot be predefined, but rather must be determined according to the circumstances of each case, including, among other things, whether the union has been active in initiating and conducting negotiations and whether substantial fluctuations in membership have occurred.

In the regular course of events, if the representative union conducts negotiations in good faith and there is no indication of a reduction in membership, the employer should not challenge the union's representativeness. However, the court emphasised that the period of stability does not constitute immunity. If clear indications suggest that the union is no longer representative, the employer may challenge the representativeness.

The union also has a duty of good faith to notify the employer in the event that it has lost its representativeness – for example, if the number of its members falls beneath the required number.

For further information on this topic please contact Shoshana Gavish at S Horowitz & Co by telephone (+972 3 567 0700) or email (shoshanag@s-horowitz.co.il). The S Horowitz & Co website can be accessed at www.s-horowitz.com.

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