'Haaretz' workers vote 125-68 to go on strike

Employees vote to hold strike in spite of top reporters warning against it; action means no newspaper to be published Thursday.

Haaretz strike 370 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Haaretz strike 370
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
In a drastic move on Wednesday evening, Haaretz employees voted 125-68 to go on a one-day strike, meaning that no Thursday paper will be printed this week. The strike also applies to the paper’s Hebrew and English website, and the website of TheMarker.com. The Haaretz websites had resumed operations and were back online as of early Thursday morning.
The decision came at the end of a long, at times rather heated meeting of the Haaretz workers’ committee held at the office of theMarker, during which the lack of unanimity towards the strike was laid bare.
Diplomatic Correspondent Barak Ravid took the microphone and minced no words about the wisdom of the strike, saying “this extreme act will do more harm than good”, and asking workers what they’ll do “the morning after the doomsday weapon [the strike] is used and does not work.”
Ravid later took to his Twitter page after the vote, saying “a serious mistake was made tonight; Haaretz is on the way to disaster.”
He also commented that the next step in the workers struggle will be "a mass suicide on the peak of Masada." Columnist Gideon Levy, one of the most identifiable symbols of the newspaper, also spoke out against the strike, saying that while the strike is absolutely justified, “there are situations in life where there is nothing you can do”, adding that “we’ll go on strike tonight and then tomorrow we’ll be back in exactly the same situation again.”
“This situation is very, very dangerous. I recommend counting to 10, and to remember that there are situations where you can’t do anything, and where the action you take is more damaging than what you’re fighting.”
While there was disagreement about the worth-whileness of the strike, there appeared to be unanimity about the treatment of workers by Haaretz management.
Members of the committee repeatedly characterized management as avoiding any real dialogue with the committee, as well as uncertain about the size of the layoffs they are expected to make in the near future. In recent weeks management and workers have talked about the impending termination as including around 100 of the paper’s over 400 workers. No final number has been given, according to the workers committee.
Haaretz Publisher Amos Schocken took aim at the committee in a scathing letter sent out on in which he denied that the paper has not held negotiations with employees or divulged financial information to them, saying that they have fully disclosed such information, and have repeatedly met and held talks with workers.
Schocken also said that the committee is full of lies and that no matter how they have tried to explain the economic situation to the workers "there is only one thing that matters to you, that we freeze the terminations." Schocken added that he has invested a great deal in the paper in recent years, and that they still have no choice but to make layoffs.
"It's a shame that as much as we have discussed this you have still not internalized the business reality that we are working in, which has changed beyond recognition and which requires us to take action."
“But if it is the fate of Haaretz to close, than better it close now than a few months from now like Maariv, and those who don’t understand what that means, it’s hard to understand what they’re doing in journalism."
Also on Wednesday, hundreds of Ma'ariv employees protested in Jerusalem outside the prime minister's home, calling for Netanyahu and the government to intervene to save the paper which is in danger of closing altogether.