Farmers to strike across country, halt transfer of produce

November 21, 2010 10:12

Strike being held in protest of govt. policy; shortage will be felt beginning Monday, farmers say, and consumer prices expected to increase.

2 minute read.

Arava farmers demonstrate for foreign workers

Farmers protest 311. (photo credit: Gilad Livni)

Farmers were set to go on strike Sunday across the country, halting the sale of agricultural produce, in protest of the government's refusal to allow in additional foreign workers for the agriculture sector.

The farmers planned to stop the transfer of produce to wholesale markets, supermarkets and factories starting at 11:00 am, and also planned to block major intersections, among them the Arava and Bilu Junctions.

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As part of the strike, the transfer of fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products will stop, with farmers saying the shortage will be felt across the country Monday and Tuesday. A significant increase in consumer prices of agricultural products is expected as a result of the shortage.

The strike will last for three days, according to Yaakov Noyman, an eggplant grower, if the government does not soften its policy on the employment of foreign workers, reported Army Radio. "The treasury has a plan to strip us of workers until 2015, even though we're working to death," Noyman said. "We decided to give the treasury a glimpse of what would happen in 2015 if this process continues."

Consumers have not rallied behind the farmers, claiming that the strike is unnecessary, according to Army Radio. "People want to eat salads, and children need fruit," one consumer said while another added that "Families will suffer because the shortage will lead to higher prices."

The farmers are demanding that the government honor obligations it made to the farmers last May, which would regulate the number of foreign laborers working in the sector. The farmers claim they are short 4,500 workers and that their absence causes irrevocable damages to the sector.

“We tried to design the protest so that it will cause a minimal amount of harm to the public and still have the desired effect of pressuring the government into action. On the days of the strike, we will have activists out on the roads and at main junctions handing out produce and explaining our cause,” said
Israel Farmers Federation secretary- general Avshalom Vilan.

He added that the farmers would also take advantage of the strike to protest the government’s reducing their water quotas.

Ron Friedman contributed to this report.

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