When maintenance workers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev were peremptorily fired following their attempt to organize, Shatil moved into action. The maintenance workers had been employed by a subcontracting company, some for over a decade. In the face of mounting student protests against the substandard employment conditions for the maintenance workers, the university administration decided to end its relationship with the subcontractor.
A student group, Tsach, had played an active role in informing the workers of their rights to social benefits such as sick leave, paid vacation, and pension plans. When the students’ good intentions backfired and some 150 workers were fired, Tsach turned to Shatil. Shatil then mobilized a top-notch team to win back the jobs, to have the workers’ rights reinstated, and to fight for better benefits. Shatil has continued to work with Tsach, providing the students with vital organizational and resource-development training and assisting them in their negotiations with the university’s newly appointed ombudsman.
According to the government estimates, nearly one in five Israeli families lives in poverty. The over 1.6 million poor people in Israel are disproportionately composed of the elderly, the disabled, minorities, and Israelis living far from the center of the country. The situation will likely continue to deteriorate, given the current worldwide economic climate. The government has not yet assumed responsibility for the needs of those living in poverty, nor has it made preparations to cope with the additional economic hardships on the horizon.
Shatil’s Social and Economic Justice initiative aims to eradicate poverty and to reduce the gap between rich and poor in Israel by:
- Promoting policy changes that hold the government responsible for the welfare of its own people
- Encouraging participatory democracy through grassroots leadership and community organizing
- Advancing local, sustainable economic development (LSED), which will consider the rights and needs of the weaker elements in our society
Shatil has also played a leading role in the ongoing social justice protests in Israel. For more information on this click here.
Local Sustainable Economic Development in the Negev
Shatil’s new local sustainable economic development (LSED) project in the Negev attempts to foster an alternative economic paradigm whereby wealth is defined by the wellbeing of people, the planet, in addition to profit. In this way, this project encourages real and sustainable prosperity in the Negev. Shatil’s initiative, which is in collaboration with partners from the Negev, Italy, Portugal and the Palestinian Authority, has three parts: including a professional pan-Mediterranean network, a research group, and a local Sustainable Economics Action Group. Furthermore, this initiative will help to implement actual local sustainable economic initiatives in the field, both in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority. The pilot will serve as a model for replication elsewhere in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as in peripheral regions throughout the Mediterranean region.
Reaching out to the periphery
Shatil gives existing and potential community activists the tools they need to organize and mobilize their communities. Shatil places a special emphasis on development towns in the Negev, such as Sderot, Yerucham and Dimona, and areas in the North of the country, including Tzfat, Maalot and Kiryat Shmona.
Economic Development for Women in Israel
Shatil combines advocacy efforts on the national level, one-on-one consultation, and workshop training, paying particular attention to marginalized communities such as Bedouin women in the Negev, Mizrachi women, and immigrant women from Ethiopia. While Shatil itself is not an economic-empowerment organization, our consultation services provide capacity building to Israel’s leading economic-empowerment organizations and other economic-development projects. In turn, each organization utilizes its newfound skills to improve the lives of hundreds of disenfranchised women who reside in all parts of the country.