(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The farmers’ strike scheduled to begin on Monday over the government’s refusal
to allow in additional foreign workers for the agriculture sector is gaining
On Wednesday, the farmers recruited the wholesale markets and
regional authority heads to their cause, which will lead to a complete freeze in
the marketing of agricultural products unless a solution is found in
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post
, Israel Farmers Federation
secretary- general Avshalom Vilan said that the wholesalers and the regional
council heads were joining the farmers out of solidarity.
has failed to honor agreements signed with the farmers, and we have no option
but to strike,” said Vilan.
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
“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 [Monday to Thursday], we will
have activists out on the roads and at main junctions handing out produce and
explaining our cause,” said Vilan.
Vilan said that gaining the
cooperation of the wholesalers was an important development because it showed
that the entire delivery chain had been recruited to the cause.
wholesale markets – the biggest one is located in Tzrifin, near Rishon Lezion –
are where all the supermarket chains, grocers and restaurants go to purchase
fresh produce. Their closure for three days means that there will be no sale of
fresh agricultural produce, including fruits and vegetables, eggs, flowers,
chicken and milk.
Vilan said the government was incapable of reaching or
honoring a decision on foreign workers and that they were tangled in legal and
He added that the farmers would also take advantage
of the strike to protest the government’s reducing their water
Last week, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon briefly raised the
idea of allowing Palestinian workers into Israel for work on the farms. When
asked if that would be acceptable to the farmers, Vilan said the farmers were
willing to take any workers they could get, but that the military was refusing
to allow Palestinians in, and had failed to meet with the farmers’
representatives even to discuss the possibility.