Dozens of employees of the Harsa factory in Beersheba demonstrated Monday morning at the entrance to the factory, after their owners informed Histadrut representatives and the workers' committee that it was decided to close it after 70 years. The protesters carried signs that read "70 years have gone down the drain."
The Histadrut labor union announced that at the start of the week, workers would not be allowed to return to work. The factory management hired a security company to prevent them from entering their workplaces. Union employees were ordered to refuse to receive their dismissal letters from the company's management until their rights and the conditions were settled.
Ceramics were once a thriving industry in Israel and Harsa produced sanitary ware, such as toilets and sinks. Established in Beersheba shortly after Israel became independent from the British in 1948, it had about 115 employees, mostly residents of Beersheba and the surrounding area. In addition the plant provides livelihood for hundreds of workers in related areas.
For the last two years there had been concern among the workers regarding their future employment, because the owners of the company built a factory for the manufacture of sanitary ware in Turkey. Now the company's decision to close the plant in Beersheba and transfer its full operations to Turkey has been realized.