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Histadrut Labor Union: Prices Rising All Over – We’ll Strike!

Histadrut Labor Union chairman Ofer Eini says that in light of the price rises in gas, bread, water and more, “the time has come to say ‘enough.’”
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/7/2011, 11:19 AM / Last Update: 2/7/2011, 11:11 AM

Flash 90

Histadrut Labor Union chairman Ofer Eini says that in light of the price rises in gas, bread, water and more, “the time has come to say ‘enough.’” He has threatened to officially call a labor dispute this week, paving the way for a general nationwide strike two weeks later.

Eini, who has been mentioned as a possible successor to Ehud Barak as Chairman of the Labor Party, even though he has never been a Knesset Member, made the strike threat on Army Radio today. “They’re making everything more expensive here – gas, bread, public transportation, water. The time has come to say ‘enough.’ It’s becoming impossible to live here.” Eini has said he does not plan to run for the leadership of the Labor Party.

Regarding water, Eini said, “The prices have gone up almost 100%, and it’s not purely to save water. This is public theft via something that we cannot do without.”

Eini met Sunday evening with his partners-in-struggle, the Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of Economic Organizations, Shraga Brosh, and the Chairman of the Union of Local Authorities, Shlomo Buchbut. “The three main economic bodies have gotten together in order to tell the government that it’s time to make this country just a bit more social,” Eini said.

Buchbut has been waging a public struggle against the past year’s steep water price hikes. His organization claims that though a cubic meter of water actually costs 3.1 shekels, the price to the consumer “after taxes, bureaucracy and salaries” is 10.6 shekels.

Buchbut said that while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu toils to cut the price of gas by 20 agorot a liter (20.5 cents a gallon), “he should be calling on the Finance Minister to revoke the water price hikes as well.”

The price of gas has risen by 8.2% over the past two months, and by 13.3% over the past half-year. As of tomorrow, bread prices will rise by 3.33%, rendering a loaf of standard “achid” bread 4.92 shekels.

Eini has long claimed that Value Added Tax – currently at 16% - inherently benefits the higher classes. This is because it applies to all goods including necessary staples such as bread and water, forcing the poorer consumers to spend a higher percentage of their income on VAT.

“Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz says that Israel’s economic situation is so good that other countries can learn from us,” Eini said. “If that’s the case, then we should be able to direct some of our resources towards the weaker classes.”