TA: Thousands rally at Histadrut to support tent protests

Ofer Eini to protesters: "We lost our compassion and became a capitalist country"; hundreds march to Gideon Sa'ar's house in stroller protest.

August 5, 2011 01:58
3 minute read.
Thousands of Histradrut members protest in TA.

histadrut protest. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

Thousands of workers took part in a rally held by the Histadrut National Labor Federation in Tel Aviv on Thursday to show their support for social protests sweeping across Israel.

Held under the title “Workers are with the protest,” the demonstration brought together youth groups like the “Noar Haoved veh halomed,” and workers from some of Israel’s biggest companies, such as Tnuva, as well as the Electrical Co-op, Israel Railways, Israel Military Industries and a large detachment of firefighters.

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'We all want same thing, even if we put it differently'

The protesters held signs showing their support for the protest movement and chanted “the people want social justice,” on the front lawn of the Histadrut headquarters.

Speaking from the stage on Thursday, Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini said “after many years in which the country’s socialist policies have changed, we lost our compassion and became a capitalist country. And not only a capitalist country, but a piggish capitalist country.”

Eini called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “listen to the people” and said “the workers are the leaders, and they are the people.”

Pnina Klein from the organization “NA’AMAT - Movement of Working Women & Volunteers,” called Netanyahu’s government “a disgrace to the State of Israel in the way it abandons Israeli children. Caretakers work from the early hours until the nighttime to earn NIS 3,800.”
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“The time has come for the state to take responsibility for its citizens. We supported the mothers’ protest, and we say that they have the mandate to shout that there is no reason that half of their salaries should go to pay for their children’s education... Bibi, go home!” Also on Thursday, thousands of parents took part in over a dozen protest marches held across the country against the high cost of raising children in Israel.

Protest organizers said their demands include free education, beginning with the end of the parents’ maternity leave; increasing maternity leave to six months; government supervision over the prices of baby supplies; free public transport for infants; and balance between the vacation days and sick days of parents and those of their children.

Tel Aviv mother Noga Klinger said she took part in the protest march because she and her baby’s father cannot manage to make ends meet.

“We pay NIS 3,400 per month for our two-year-old’s nursery.
This figure is all about the power of the market, and not about education. It is a basic right that the government must provide for its citizens.”

She said that the high cost of sending children to day care creates an incentive for her and parents like her, to stay home and not work at all.

“It creates a situation where you don’t want to work – half of your salary goes to the nursery. You might as well just stay at home. It’s very difficult to deal with and this is one of the reasons that there are so many couples in Israel divorcing after their first child.”

Klinger added that the protest Thursday is a continuation of last week’s “stroller march” that saw several thousand parents march down Ben- Tzion Boulevard in Tel Aviv, and vowed that further marches would follow.

After reaching the Rothschild tent city on Thursday, a number of the parents joined hundreds of protesters in a march to the house of Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud), where they demanded free education for all Israelis from the end of maternity leave.

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