Cost-of-living Protest Leaders Target Osem

Organizers call consumers to boycott the Osem food company because it is raising prices ■ Social workers to strike all welfare services on Monday

Yellow vest protest in Tel Aviv, December 14, 2018.
Moti Milrod

The leaders of the protests against the high cost of living and planned price hikes called Sunday for consumers to boycott the Osem food company because it is raising prices. Playing on the company’s advertising slogan, the leaders said: “It’s robbery – It’s Osem” and called to leave the company’s products on the shelves until Osem announces it is canceling the price increases.

A demonstration will be held on Saturday night across from the government office complex in Tel Aviv, with other protests to be held around the country. As in previous protests, the organizers have called on participants to wear fluorescent yellow safety vests, inspired by the mass – and violent – protests in France.

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“On Friday, we proved that the tycoons and monopolies cannot decide for themselves harsh decisions that the public will accept in silence,” said the chairman of the national students union, Ram Shefa. “We will simply not let it happen. This battle will continue for as long as the government does not intervene and stop the economic decrees.”

Meanwhile, the Israel Association of Social Workers announced it is calling full strike for Monday. All welfare services in Israel will be on strike in protest over the continued crisis in the welfare services, said the union. Municipal welfare departments will be closed, social workers will not provide the courts with their evaluations, no committees will meet on matters of at-risk children, and centers for the treatment of domestic violence will not operate. Neither will social workers provide services to the public at the Social Affairs Ministry – including probation officers and social workers in the education system, National Insurance Institute, health system, hospitals and HMOs, and mental health clinics will also be on strike.

A protest march in support of the social workers will start from the government compound in Tel Aviv at 11 A.M. on its way to Rabin Square, where a rally will be held.

Last month, the social workers union began taking protest actions as part of their demands to improve their employment conditions, including improving their personal security in their workplaces and reducing caseloads.

Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Haim Katz called on the social workers to give negotiations a chance and call off the strike, which he says will hit the neediest the most. “I support improving the employment conditions of the social workers, but shutting down all the welfare services is a mistake that cannot be used when the door is open and the interests are identical,” Katz said.