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Hebrew: ha-histadrut

Logo of Histadrut

Logo of Histadrut.

David Ben-Gurion, the first general secretary of Histadrut.
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David Ben-Gurion, the first general secretary of Histadrut.

Jewish labour organization, today the largest voluntary organization in Israel. Histadrut is currently more than just a labour organization. Its members are both in industry as well as in worker cooperatives.
Among Histadrut's activities are businesses for consumer goods, entrepreneurial activities, credit societies and banks, health services and social insurance. Histadrut provides about 20% of Israel's national income. Histadrut is also strongly involved in education, ranging from secondary schools to technical schools to adult education, as well as the publication of books and newspapers.
For many years, Histadrut was central in the Zionist struggle, being involved in promoting and aiding Jewish immigration. In the first years, Histadrut only allowed Jewish members, but beginning in 1943, it became involved in organizing the rights of Arab workers as well.
Today, Histadrut serves both employed as well as self-employed workers. About 85% of all Israelis who qualify for membership, are part of Histadrut. According to figures from 1989, it had 1,600,000 members, of which 100,000 were Arabs. Histadrut itself employs about 280,000 workers involved in normal businesses, factories and more.
The administration of the Histadrut is headed by an executive bureau, which indirectly is elected by the members of the organization.

1920: Histadrut is formed among Jews in Palestine, as the two organizations Ahdut HaAvodah and HaPoale HaTzair join forces. The full name is Federation of Hebrew Workers in the Land of Israel. David Ben-Gurion becomes its first general secretary.
1921: Histadrut forms a construction and public works company, as well as the Workers' Bank.
1943: A special department is set up for Arab workers.
1966: Because of the many Arab members, "Hebrew" is removed from the organization's name.
1971: Histadrut is sanctioned by the Israeli government as the sole legal representative labour organization.
1968: The Mapai Party, which had been dominating Histadrut for years, merges with other parties, and forms the Labour Party.

By Tore Kjeilen