On Sunday, an emotional poetry reading took place in the city of Rehovot, Israel, outside the gates of the Weizmann Institute of Science in solidarity with the workers against the institute’s management.
The event was supported by a variety of poetry (Guerrilla Culture) and art journals, including, “Dhaka“, “Direction East” “Maayan” and “Basta Tarbot” (an initiative of Osnat Skoblinsky from Rehovot, which brings alternative culture to the far corners of Israel).
We salute “Power to the Workers” who are organizing workers and support the workers’ demand that the Weizmann Institute of Science recognize their union, and negotiate with them for a collective agreement.
Over 130 days have passed, and the management of the internationally acclaimed Weizmann Institute of Science still refuse to sign a collective agreement with their employees who work at the Garden of the Museum of Science. Weizmann is the largest and most financially-endowed science research university of Israel. Most of the workers at the Weizmann Science Garden are guides, craft workers, janitorial staff, and administrative employees. Current employees are working with individual, personal contracts under which they experience discrimination. They have organized together to form a collective union, called Power to the workers, but as of now, the Weizmann Institute of Science will not recognize, or negotiate, with their union. In previous demonstrations a worker of the Weizmann Institute of Science was beaten and injured by a security guard hired by the Institute to prevent the workers from demonstrating.
Guerrilla Culture has been engaged in struggle of different groups of workers in Israel. With the struggle of the waitresses of “Coffee to go” adjacent to the Tel Aviv University (12/2007), we have developed a strategy of popular poetry readings in solidarity with the workers. We have acted in solidarity with the “Polgat” textile workers after the closing of the “Polgat” factory in the city of Kiryat-Gat in the south of Israel (04/2008), bringing to town poets and musicians to support the local community and to encourage them to action.
At the core of Guerrilla Culture stands the notion of Democracy. The subject we want to raise and confront is the conflict between the “freedom to take advantage” and the “advantage of freedom” for workers. The public must determine what kind of a Democracy it will be: Is it a Democracy that gives liberties only to its financial elite and does not imply a welfare policy with a vast range of social rights to all of its members? Is it an authoritarian regime that uses violence in order to force its policy or is it an inclusive and true participatory Democracy – a Democracy that believes that all people are created equal, with an equal right to live a free life, as derived from the early humanistic ideas and values.
Guerrilla Culture connects different artistic, cultural, literary, media, class, gender and ethnic struggles into a diverse coalition of social cultural fronts in Israeli society.
Parallel to its hard line approach towards the workers’ union, the Weizmann Institute of Science publicly presents itself as a scientific research center which aims to benefit all people. In a Democratic society, we must demand that an institution live up to its ideals, and that ideology will match its actions in its treatment of its workers.
Through history, the struggle of scientific progress reminds the struggle of the workers. Our protest and resistance against all oppression and humiliation will move the earth the same way Galileo saw the earth moves!
- Osnat Skoblinsky
- Roy Chicky Arad
- Mati Shemoelof
- Zeela Kaz (R.I.P)
- Yuval Ben Ami
- Nimrod Kamer
- Joshua Simon
- Mc King (Lesotho)
This list is an open call. You are invited to coordinate your participation.
This Invitition was published on Jvoices, 8.12.2008.