Histadrut activists bring ICL protest to Rothschild tent city

The unions have demonstrated in cities across the South and Jerusalem in the past week, sometimes shutting down major intersections.

By
March 2, 2015 23:26
2 minute read.
A SIGN DEMANDING fair housing solutions hangs on a tent on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv yesterda

A SIGN DEMANDING fair housing solutions hangs on a tent on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv yesterday.. (photo credit: NIV ELIS)

Two groups with differing aims took to Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard on Monday to make their cases to the Israeli public and media.

On one end, near Allenby Street, the Histadrut labor federation turned out a few hundred protesters to continue their weeks-long demonstrations against Israel Chemicals, which is laying off workers from its unprofitable bromide compounds plant.

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The unions have demonstrated in cities across the South and Jerusalem in the past week, sometimes shutting down major intersections.

Their reason for bringing the protest to the boulevard, aside from its protest-rich history, is that ICL CEO Stefan Borgas lives there.

Protesters carried signs affiliated with a variety of political parties, one urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to be a tycoon’s “puppet” and use the government’s “golden shares” in the company to change the policy. The Histadrut sent a letter along similar lines to the Finance Ministry.

The golden shares in question refer to government-held shares in the company that include special voting privileges, which can veto certain business decisions.

ICL responded that its downsizing program does not pose harm to the government’s shares, and thus they should not be invoked. The Finance Ministry had no comment on the matter.

On the other end of the boulevard, a miniature revival of the tents protests of 2011 proceeded into its second day.

It’s been nearly four years since social protesters took over the thoroughfare, occupying the space with tents and demonstrations over the course of the summer of 2011.

Monday’s protest was decidedly smaller.

Signs lamenting the continued increase of housing costs adorned the roughly 21 tents, as did flags of political parties such as Meretz.

One passerby, a mother on a bicycle with her young son, reprimanded the protesters for “making this look like the Left’s issue. It’s the whole nation’s issue.”

Protesters were invited to pitch their tents on Sunday by Shay Cohen, who heads the activist group Koah L’ovdim, in honor of his 40th birthday.

At that age, the invitations said, Cohen could still not afford a home of his own.

“There’s no reason we should work 50 years to buy a two-room apartment when in Berlin it costs half as much,” said one participant, a 16-yearold boy named Eilon. “I would like for people to be able to buy an apartment and not be slaves to the tycoons.”

Another supporter, a 41-yearold former Likud activist named Guy Zalmanovitch, said that despite the pre-election timing, the protest was not oriented toward a particular party.

“I don’t think anyone currently in the Knesset is coming in a straightforward way to lead this issue cleanly, without politics,” he said.

Asked if he thought the turnout was disappointing, he replied: “You and your friends should be out here too, because this is a crisis that affects us all.”

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.


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