Violence breaks out at protest over Of Haemek factory closure

Violence broke out in Ramat Yishai on Monday, when dozens of workers from the Of Haemek chicken company protested against the company's impending closure. The crowd blocked the passage of the company's CEO Shuki Ogen, as well as Histadrut Labor Federation representatives who accompanied him to a meeting at the factory. Angry employees were beating his car when he made his escape from the factory. A photographer was lightly injured in a scuffle which ensued when workers tried to slam a heavy metal door on the hood of Ogen's car. Earlier, the workers left the factory and marched in the direction of Ramat Yishai's main road, where police had set up roadblocks. UAL-Ta'al MK Ahmed Tibi came to the workers' defense, and called on the government to save the factory with a loan or a long-term guarantee. Hundreds of workers and their families should not be harmed," he said. At the end of last week, the closure of the company, which employs 200 workers, was averted temporarily in a last-ditch effort by Histadtrut Labor Federation chairman Ofer Eini to postpone the decision by a week or two. During this period, the Of Haemek management is negotiating with bank representatives and the Finance Ministry with the aim of getting a state-guaranteed loan. Sharon Wrobel contributed to this report.