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Israeli Restaurant Workers Strike for Union Rights at Coffee Bean

Posted to the IUF website 28-Jan-2008

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Yielding to national and international pressure, management has agreed to enter into negotiations with the union. The Israeli unions have therefore called for the campaign to be suspended pending the outcome of the talks, and thank all who have supported the struggle for trade union rights at the Coffee Bean by responding to our appeal. The IUF will inform you of developments.

Israel's national labour center Histadrut is giving full support to workers at Tel Aviv's Ibn Gvirol street branch of the international coffee roaster and restaurant franchiser Coffee Bean, where workers have been on strike since January 22 against a union-busting management. Coffee Bean, originally a US-only roasting and coffeehouse chain, now operates over 500 outlets (270 direct owned) in 15 countries in the USA, Middle East, Asia, and Australia. None of the 14 Israeli establishments are currently union organized.

The struggle for union rights at the restaurant began in January last year, when workers began to press for improved conditions. In July 2007, an employee activist who had attempted to establish a worker committee was sacked. The Histadrut successfully challenged the dismissal in the courts, but management refused to enter into negotiations for a collective agreement and began pressuring workers supporting the attempt to organize. Workers responded to the ongoing intimidation and harassment by taking strike action on January 22, with the support of the Histadrut and social and youth activists, who demonstrated outside the restaurant and are now taking their protests to other Coffee Bean outlets.

Coffee Bean workers are standing up to management bullying and responded to the recent aggression by declaring 100% membership in the union branch. The labour movement in Israel sees organizing the Coffee Bean as a potential breakthrough for building union organization in the chain and in the sector generally. You can support their struggle by sending a message to the local franchise owner and to the Coffee Bean international headquarters, supporting the fight against union-busting and in support of trade union rights. Copies of the messages will be automatically sent to the Histadrut and to the IUF. Click here to send a message.