IDF Workers Union head describes pressure to outsource Navy work
Letter details meeting between labor union heads and PM's lawyer David Shomron and his client Miki Ganor in effort to dissuade the IDF's civilian workers from trying to foil a move to outsource maintenance work on the Israeli Navy's submarines to the German shipyard.
The head of the IDF Workers Union wrote a letter to the union's workers on Sunday describing the pressure put by attorney David Shimron and his client Miki Ganor on the Israeli Navy to outsource the maintenance work on its submarines to a German shipyard.
Israel's submarine deal with Germany includes two main parts: The acquisition of three submarines and the signing of a contract for long-term maintenance work with the German shipyard that Ganor represents. It is the latter contract that would be more profitable to Ganor, according to defense officials.
The Israeli Navy's shipyards currently employ Israeli civilians to do maintenance work on its submarines, and it is them that would be affected if the work is outsourced to a private company.
In his letter, which was obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth, IDF Workers Union head Moshe Friedman confirms that Ganor and Shimron—who is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal lawyer—met with him and with Avi Nissenkorn, the head of the Histadrut Labor Federation, to pressure them against trying to foil the efforts to outsource the maintenance work.
"Decency obliges me to note that attorney Shimron informed me right at the outset of the meeting that this was not a political meeting, but a business one," Friedman wrote. "His account made it clear that it would be better for the German company and the IDF Workers Union to negotiate and reach an agreement rather than being dictated by a decision from the Defense Ministry."
On Ganor, Friedman wrote: "I was surprised and saddened to hear Mr. Ganor's account that the Navy was cooperating with them and that the move to outsource to the German shipyard was made, according to him, with the Navy's support and on its behalf. The attempts to recruit the Histadrut’s support were accompanied by serious accusations made in an effort to tarnish the shipyard employees."
Friedman also raised claims about the ties Ganor cultivated with the senior command in the Navy, adding that "Mr. Ganor showed great familiarity, describing the Navy's different docks, which he seeks to have for the German shipyard's work. He claims that the Navy's shipyards do not measure up to standards, added that the German shipyard is cheaper, and claimed there were strikes at the (Navy) shipyards."
Friedman emphasized that Ganor "claimed these comments were coming from the Navy and not from him. I learned from his account that he also checked the possibility of the Haifa Port allocating additional areas on its docks—that belongs to the Navy—for the German shipyard. It's still unclear to me whether his account was of the Navy's work plan or whether it was his own business plan."
Friedman finished his letter with a promise to the workers: "The civilian workers in the IDF are the source of knowledge, the ones familiar with different weapons to the smallest detail. I did not agree and will not agree to change the status of the employees from IDF workers to workers of a private company, out of the understanding that the knowledge accumulated by the IDF's civilian workers belongs to the people of Israel. Maintaining the security of the State of Israel by ensuring we keep the professional knowledge in the hands of the IDF and not give it to foreign countries or for-profit companies, and protecting the livelihood of the workers we represent—that is the mandate we've been given."
On Sunday night, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and State Attorney Shai Nitzan announced there was no suspicion of criminal wrongdoing in the affair. Mandelblit did, however, order an examination of the possible conflict of interest between Prime Minister Netanyahu and his attorney David Shimron.