(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Thousands of workers took part in a rally held by the Histadrut Nataional Labor
Federation in Tel Aviv on Thursday, in order to show their support for social
protests that have swept 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. 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.
'We all want same thing, even if we put it differently'
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 Benyamin 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 Prime Minister Benyamin 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."
"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
childrens' 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 of the maternity leave to 6 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
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
"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 just 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 parents 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.