Tnuva workers to pull cottage from the shelves

As part of labor dispute, workers at the dairy company will block the staple from distributors.

March 17, 2012 18:17
2 minute read.
tnuva cottage cheese

tnuva cottage cheese_311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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In a twist to the cottage cheese saga that helped ignite last summer’s social justice protests, workers from the Tnuva dairy company announced on Saturday that they would block cottage cheese from reaching the market as part of a labor dispute.

The Histadrut labor federation authorized the Tnuva workers to open a labor dispute against the company last month. Workers are demanding, among other things, salary increases, better retirement conditions and reduced salary gaps between newer and veteran employees.

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Starting on Sunday, they said, they would stop distributing cottage cheese to stores and markets.

Last year, boycotts and protests over the price of cottage cheese fueled a movement protesting high prices and demanding social justice.

In July, the government decided to open the dairy market to imports, adopting the Kedmi Committee’s recommendations on how to bring down prices.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised the changes would lower prices and increase industry transparency.

Under the new policy, dairy farmers and supermarkets will be required to report profits, unfilled dairy production quotas will be opened up to competition and the target price (the amount dairy farmers get for a liter of milk at the cowshed gate) will be lowered by five to six agorot.

In addition, the relationship between suppliers and supermarkets will be examined.

Supermarkets will also be required to mark their products clearly, and smaller dairy farms will be permitted to grow.

Imports were to be introduced gradually over five years, beginning this year.

The Kedmi Committee, headed by Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry director-general Sharon Kedmi, was established in response to a mass-consumer revolt that began over the high cost of cottage cheese.

In response, the Dairy Board said it was “troubled” by Netanyahu’s decision and named what it called two major flaws.

“The clumsy and complicated solution adopted by the prime minister will not help at all to lower the price of milk and dairy products for consumers,” the board said.

“Not only will family dairy farms in the outlying areas of the country not grow, but after the expected collapse of more than 300 dairy farms, the concentration of the means of dairy production will grow even further, strengthening the seasonal shortage of basic dairy products in summer,” the board continued.

“Instead of the consumer benefiting, the whole process will serve only to increase the profits of a few tycoons and a few extra importers.”

The Dairy Board said it had warned the prime minister over and over that “the entire process of collecting data that preceded the decision was haphazard, and did not rely on verified economic data, nor on recommendations by leading Israeli experts on agricultural economy.”

Nadav Shemer contributed to this report.

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