Hundreds of Arab workers at WAC's May Day celebration in Haifa
Hundreds of construction and agricultural workers from Arab locales took part in
a May Day event organized by the Workers Advice Center (WAC – MA'AN, an
independent Trade Union Center based in Nazareth).
Men and women arrived from Nazareth, Kufr Manda, Um El Fahem, Kufr Qara, and
East Jerusalem. The slogan this year was "All Workers Together with WAC" (ma’an
means "together" in Arabic).
Asma Agbarieh, WAC's spokesperson, reminded the audience that the event was a
step in the long march of the workers of the world for a share in the riches of
Assaf Adiv, WAC's National Coordinator, reported on WAC's progress in the last
year, specifying its new activity among agricultural workers. This activity has
made it possible for WAC to start organizing women. For three years, Adiv said,
construction workers had been the focus. Now as WAC expands to other areas,
organizing workers of temporary agencies, youth and women, it has become an
address for all workers.
The next speakers were Abd El Mune'm Khatib, who leads a team of construction
workers from Nazareth; Nivin Hamdan from Kufr Qara, a young woman who was the
first to take the advantage of the agricultural jobs secured by WAC; Rash
Manasra from Nazareth and Ihab Jabarin from Um El Fahem, both representing WAC’s
Yaacov Ben Efrat, General Secretary of the Organization for Democratic Action
(ODA), reported on the attempt by the Israeli authorities to dismantle WAC on
the grounds that it supported the ODA. The workers, he said, had stood up to
this attempt. He recalled the first of May in 1975, when the Vietnamese
liberation struggle was won. After that the workers of the world suffered many
defeats. But those who know how to overcome defeat, those who are committed to
the cause of the working class, will be there ready to revive the movement when
the moment is ripe.
The organizers then called to the stage those workers who had made a special
contribution. Among them was Nur Tiara from Kufr Qara, who was unable to
continue his work in construction and who now led the new group of agricultural
workers. Another was Khaled Karakeh from East Jerusalem, a WAC
activist, unemployed, who takes responsibility to help and instruct many of the
unemployed in East Jerusalem.
Another was Sabah Masri from Kufr Qara, one of the first women workers to join
WAC. As an agricultural worker at Kibbutz Bahan, she was nominated by her team
to represent it. She called on all workers to join WAC, which bears the banner
of organized labor.