Paying the Full Price at Hetzi Hinam

Yomtov Duak was shot to death while guarding the store's entrance, when he tried to prevent an armed robber from coming in.

Yomtov Duak lost his life for the daily intake at the supermarket chain Hetzi Hinam (Half Price) in Holon - NIS 800,000. He was shot to death on March 30 while guarding the store's entrance when he tried to prevent an armed robber from coming in.

Duak worked as a guard at the store for almost two years. He generally worked in the evenings and at night because he wanted to spend the days with his wife, a retired kindergarten teacher. Among his duties, he stood near the central cash register when the day's earnings were being counted.

Duak, 56 when he died, was a sociable person, and a fatherly figure for the young workers at the store. He had many relatives in Holon and enjoyed meeting family members when they came to shop at the supermarket. He was happy with his work as a guard, even though he was constantly at odds with the contractor who employed him regarding unpaid benefits.

After his murder, his widow and three daughters found out that not only had the security company not paid his dues to the pension fund, it had not regularly paid for his life insurance policy. When Tova Duak tried to make contact with his employer, she found that the company had disappeared.

A determined effort revealed that the company had changed its name immediately after the murder, apparently to disassociate itself from the event, and the new-old owners had shaken off any responsibility toward the murdered guard. Hetzi Hinam's owners likewise declined all responsibility, even though they sent plenty of food packages to the family at Passover and Rosh Hashana.

If all this were not enough, last week some 10 workers from the supermarket attacked a group of activists from the Bema'agalei Tzedek organization - high school students who have volunteered to fight for the rights of workers employed by contractors. They had come to demonstrate outside the Holon supermarket, calling on the chain to take responsibility for Duak's family and agree that a memorial be set up for him at the site.

The bullies tore up posters and flyers, beat up some of the demonstrators, broke cameras, and knocked down and kicked Duak's youngest daughter, who had joined in the protest with her two sisters. Police called to the scene used tear gas to try to get the supermarket workers to stop. A policewoman and two demonstrators were injured, and two of the workers were detained.

Hetzi Hinam's legal responsibility toward the family of the murdered man who had been employed by an outside contractor is not clear cut. Attempts to introduce legislation placing responsibility for workers' rights also on those who accept services from contractors were not successful, and court rulings on the subject are ambiguous. But there cannot be any doubt about the supermarket owners' public and moral responsibility toward the Duak family.

Zaky Shalom, Hetzi Hinam's owner and CEO, once said in an interview that the chain had been set up "to protect those with few means" from the prices of the large and established supermarket chains. Perhaps. But on the way to his goal, Shalom hurt quite a few people with limited means. Three years ago, he was arrested on suspicion of illegally employing foreign workers, getting them to work up to 19 hours a day and giving them accommodation unfit for humans.

He was heavily fined for that. It now turns out that Shalom employed a contracting firm that abused the rights of the guard who protected his money. The Duak family is pursuing a civil suit against Hetzi Hinam. The state must exhaust all means via criminal proceedings against the chain's workers who attacked 20 civilians expressing their basic right to protest against a social injustice. In this violent affair, the Hetzi Hinam must pay full price.