General strike threatened over basic goods price hikes

Histadrut, Manufacturers Association, Union of Local Authorities in "historical partnership" against price increases, "economic breakdown."

gas station strike 311 (photo credit: Rami Zringer)
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.
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.
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“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.