Employees of Haaretz called a partial work stoppage on Sunday night, shutting down the paper for around two hours in the first such action by employees as they face a round of layoffs.

Shouting “No newspaper without journalists,” the employees of Haaretz and TheMarker blocked Schocken Street outside the paper’s headquarters in south Tel Aviv, and demanded answers about the size and scope of the impending layoffs.

Uri Tuval, a member of the papers’ workers committee, said employees don’t know exactly how many employees will be laid off, only that they have been told by management that around 80 of the 400 employees of Haaretz and The Marker will be fired soon, and that they don’t believe the story will end there.

“Their plan to save the paper is through terminations, but we believe they’ll see that that doesn’t do the job and there will be another round of layoffs down the road,” he said.

Tuval added that while the workers understand the financial trouble facing Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken and how hard it is to keep a paper open in this day and age, they believe that in lieu of layoffs, the paper should launch an aggressive campaign to gain more subscribers, largely through reaching out to readers who access the paper’s content for free online on its Hebrew website.

In the meantime, it appears the paper’s management is committed to a large number of terminations, in keeping with the bleak climate in the Israeli media which is expected to see around 1,500 of Ma’ariv’s 2,000 employees let go soon, and barring intervention from the government or a wealthy patron, the closure of Channel 10.

On Sunday night, one veteran Haaretz journalist looked out at the crowd of around 100 and said, “This protest is more of a funeral procession, we’re working in a profession that’s dying out.”

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger