gas station strike 311.
(photo credit: Rami Zringer)
As citizens in neighboring countries continued their protests this week over the increasing costs of basic goods such as fuel, bread and water, an agreement between the largest workers union, the Histadrut, the Manufacturers Association of Israel and the Union of Local Authorities (ULA) could paralyze the country with a massive general strike in less than two weeks, the three organizations jointly announced Monday.
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In a statement released by the three, Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini, ULA chairman Shlomo Buhbuht and Manufacturers Association head Shraga Brosh said that this was a “historic partnership” and the first time that we have taken joint action against such price increases.
“Every mayor of every city in Israel agrees that the increase in prices
will be catastrophic for Israeli society and is simply not acceptable,”
the statement read. “We are not talking about a sector-based battle but
about a social fight against the rising prices.”
A spokeswoman for the ULA told The Jerusalem Post
“The lower and middle class people in this country are facing economic
breakdown with many people unable to pay their municipal taxes, water
bill or general supermarket bill… We plan to fight this and be the mouth
of the Israeli people.”
“Just over a month ago we attempted to get this government to raise the
minimum wage in order to help society’s weakest segments,” added Eyal
Melma, Histadrut spokesperson. “Not only did the government reject
increasing the minimum wage but they went ahead and raised all the
prices of basic necessities.”
He continued: “Water should not be considered a luxury item; it should
not be that a person has to think twice before taking a shower… a
government should provide its citizens with reasonably priced water and
not increase the price of it by 50 percent in one go.”
“Everyone is affected by this increase but especially the country’s weaker populations,” he said.
The Manufacturers Association head Brosh pointed out that the increase
in fuel and water made Israel among the most expensive countries to live
in the world.
“There is no economic justification for such an extreme social
situation,” he said, arguing that the Israel’s excise on diesel makes it
the third most expensive country after Turkey and Britain out of a list
of more than 20 other states.
The Histadrut spokesman said that the union was in the process of
putting together an action plan for the strike, which, he said, was
aimed at showing ordinary people that there was someone who would
support them. Melma added that the combined action of the ULA and the
manufacturers would be very powerful.
The Finance Ministry said it had yet to formulate a response to the
threat of a general strike from the three large organizations.