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Customers can expect a shortage of Tnuva dairy products, particularly its various yogurt lines, as the company's 4,000 workers prepare to strike, starting on Thursday.

Management rejected workers' demands for a 4 percent real wage increase for the new contract lasting until the end of next year. Management countered with an offer of a 1 percent rise in real wages.

Labor costs at the country's largest dairy co-op are among the highest in the market sector, reaching NIS 16,000 per month for veteran workers.

The workers committee considered declaring a labor dispute but decided not to wait the requisite two weeks "cooling off" period before launching their strike, according to committee members.

The members said that if their demands were not met, they would disrupt Tnuva's plans to convert to a corporation, which is well under way. Management also refuses to accede to the workers' demand to receive 10 percent of Tnuva shares at no cost, another dispute they claim is liable to delay the company's restructuring.

Workers committee chair Aryeh Cohen refused to comment.

Tnuva Vice President Ivri Goren commented last night that "negotiations between management and the workers committee are being conducted in a productive atmosphere despite various disagreements."

Noting that talks would result in a salary hike, he added, "I don't believe that a considerate workers committee would decide to initiate disruptions in supplying products and service to Tnuva customers."