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The "High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel" has called for a general strike today, a call which has been heeded widely - but almost entirely by Palestinian Israelis, and even among them not universally.

Some employers have warned their employees that if they do not come to work today, their employment will be terminated immediately.

Now, this is likely unlawful termination by Israeli labor law - but that's usually not enough to get you reinstated; rather, the courts usually award compensation/damages to the employee.

I was wondering, though - regardless of Israeli labor law - is there any relevant part international law - e.g. in the forms of treaties or agreements - under would help such employees keep their workplace?

I'm specifically interested both in law that is binding in Israel and law which is non-binding in Israel (e.g. a treaty it hasn't signed).

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  • I promise that no employer in the US has ever consulted "international law" for firing their workers inside the country. I would assume the same applies everywhere.
    – Tiger Guy
    May 19, 2021 at 6:01
  • @TigerGuy: Naturally. But they don't consult local labor law either before shouting at their Arab employee that they're being insolent and not to come back to work.
    – einpoklum
    May 19, 2021 at 6:03

2 Answers 2

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The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights agrees in Art. 8 that

  1. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure...(d) The right to strike, provided that it is exercised in conformity with the laws of the particular country.

"Exercised in conformity with the law" does allow some restrictions on striking. In the US, the NLRB sets rules governing legal vs. illegal strikes, for example a strike in the face of a no-strike contract provision, or a strike to compel an employer to fire an employee who doesn't pay union dues when no union-security agreement is in effect. So you would have to look at the labor law of Israel to see what strikes are legal vs. illegal, and that also requires looking at individual union contracts. Theoretically, a nation could enact a law authorizing any one-day strike as a form of political protest, but there is no such law in Israel as far as I can tell (this article introduces the various relevant laws of Israel).

The point is that international law on this point requires corresponding national law, as state above. ICCPR does not create a special right to conduct political strikes against a third party.

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  • Your NLRB guidelines link is quite interesting, since it allows for strikes "for the purpose of mutual ... protection", explicitly distinct from strike as part of collective bargaining. So a strike by, say, black workers called for by the NAACP may fall under this category, despite not being part of any union activity.
    – einpoklum
    May 18, 2021 at 17:32
  • Anyway, "ICCPR does not create a special right to conduct political strikes against a third party." <- That much was obvious to me, the question is whether firing someone because of a strike by all Arabs, sort of, could be incompatible with non-labor-specific ICCPR clauses.
    – einpoklum
    May 18, 2021 at 17:33
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No

Unless the workers are engaged in international trade, international law does not affect them.

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  • You're being very resolute with that "No". Is there really nothing relevant in the ICCPR perhaps? Nothing involving minority rights? No labor-practices-related treaties?
    – einpoklum
    May 18, 2021 at 12:07
  • I think it is "no" for the reasons outlined by user6726. International law should not affect the employment situation of a worker in international trade, as long as the employer has a home address somewhere ...
    – o.m.
    May 18, 2021 at 15:43
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    Even if they are engaged in international trade, there is no relevant self-executing international agreement that would give them a right to do so. Any remedy would have to arise under some country's domestic law.
    – ohwilleke
    May 18, 2021 at 17:44

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