In celebration of its 103 Years of Global Advocacy for Workers’ Rights, we take a look at the Histadrut’s Ongoing Partnership and Achievements with the IUF 

Adi Marcus
Aug 15, 2023

This month marks a significant milestone for the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Tobacco, and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), as the global union federation commemorates 103 years of relentless efforts to champion workers’ rights across the world. Established in 1920 through the merger of several international worker associations, the IUF has since evolved into a formidable force advocating for fair labor practices and improved working conditions globally. 

The federation’s origins trace back to the amalgamation of the International Federation of Bakers, Pastry Cooks and Allied Workers’ Associations, the International Federation of Meat Workers, and the International Federation of Brewery Workers. Initially composed of European affiliates, the IUF expanded its horizons in the 1950s to become a truly international organization. Over the subsequent decades, it broadened its reach by incorporating bodies such as the International Federation of Tobacco Workers and the International Union of Hotel, Restaurant, and Bar Workers. 

IUF Conference, June 2023. credit: Avital Shapira-Shabirow

Of notable significance, two Histadrut unions are active members of the IUF: the National Union of Salaried Employees and the Union of Food and Pharmaceutical Workers. At the recent IUF conference held in Geneva this June, the Chairman of the Histadrut’s Union of Food and Pharmaceutical Workers, Eliezer Belo, and the Director of International Relations at the Histadrut and International Secretary of the Union of Food and Pharmaceutical Workers and the National Union of Salaried Employees, Avital Shapira-Shabirow, were elected to the IUF’s leadership committee.

Belo, who participated in his first international IUF congress, shared his insights with Davar, stating, “At the conference, I was exposed to the hardships experienced by union professionals from around the world. The convention was very beneficial and saw impressive achievements for the Histadrut in the international sphere, thanks to our diligent and energetic international secretary, Avital Shapira.” 

Shapira-Shabirow’s election as an Eastern Mediterranean representative in the Women’s Committee of the Congress, Executive Board member and as Chair of the Credentials Committee, underscores the Histadrut’s elevated presence within the IUF. This strategic positioning results from ongoing partnership programs and initiatives led by Shapira-Shabirow, allowing the Histadrut to showcase its accomplishments in unionizing workers in international corporations and advocating for dignified salaries and working conditions. Moreover, Shapira-Shabirow explains, the IUF provides a platform for mutual learning, enabling the Histadrut to glean insights from its international counterparts. 

Massimo Frattini, IUF HRCT Secretary and Avital Shapira-Shabirow at IUF sponsored Vocational Training for Palestinian workers of the Hotel Industry

A striking illustration of the IUF contribution to the Histadrut’s goals is evident in its commitment to enhancing the professional capacities of Palestinian workers in the hotel industry. This partnership has led to commendable successes, exemplified by the Histadrut’s Union of Hotel, Chemical and Agricultural Workers, headed by Freddy Cohen. The fourth vocational training program led by Cohen, his Deputy Shlomo Flor, and Shapira-Shabirow, was held in conjunction with the Israeli Hotels Association, the IUF, and COGAT – the Population and Immigration Authority this year. The program has notably promoted Palestinian workers’ rights and skills within their workplaces. The collaborative nature of this initiative underscores the Histadrut’s commitment to positive change. 

As the IUF celebrates its 103rd year, the Histadrut is looking forward to a continued and robust partnership, fostering the promotion of workers’ rights within Israel and beyond. The hope is that initiatives like that mentioned above will expand across various IUF industries, further solidifying the commitment to a fair and just working environment for all. 

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