Fresh chickens (illustrative)
Fresh chickens (illustrative)iStock

One-fifth of the ritual slaughterers in Israel are expected to strike next week in protest of their work conditions, Channel 12 News reported Tuesday morning.

The large group of ritual slaughterers, called "shochtim," joined the national Histadrut labor union, which on Tuesday morning announced the expected strikes to supermarket chains. The strikes are expected to create a shortage of fresh chicken, beginning at the start of next week.

According to the workers, who are employed by the Zevach Tov company, the salaries paid to them are paid according to the number of chickens slaughtered per hour, causing the employees to work quickly in order to slaughter dozens of chickens per minute, so as to ensure the receipt of at least minimum wage.

Rushing the slaughter in such a fashion also risks the chicken's kosher status, and raises the chance that either the knife or the way in which the chicken was slaughtered will render it non-kosher and prohibited for consumption.

The shochtim have pointed out that such hurry may place consumers' health at risk.

"We just want to support our families in an honorable fashion," one of the shochtim told Channel 12 News. "Thank G-d, I have seven children, and all I care about is being able to put food on the table."

G. added, "The treatment that we receive, the conditions and the cruelty, is appropriate for the world of masters and slaves. Every morning I come to the factory with great sadness, for many years."

Sources in the Histadrut were quoted as saying that nearly 90% of employees in the company announced their intention to unionize a month ago and signed up with the Histadrut, but the company made the unionization difficult and does not recognize it.

Zevach Tov did not respond to the claims.