Tnuva workers halt cottage cheese supplies

The sanctions are a response to the employees' unanswered demand for a pay rise.

The Tnuva Food Industries Ltd. workers committee has launched labor sanctions in their dispute with management. Workers today have halted deliveries of cottage cheese to supermarkets and grocery stores nationwide, as part of their unanswered demand for a pay rise. The workers committee chose cottage cheese because it was the symbol of the protest that broke out last June against Tnuva and other food producers and importers.

"At this stage, we've decided not to supply cottage cheese, and we'll take more measures later. No cottage cheese will go out tomorrow. We have all kinds of plans, and sufficient means, to embitter lives without going on strike," Tnuva workers committee chairman Ahiav Simhi told "Globes" yesterday.

"Globes": For how long won't you supply cottage cheese?

Simhi: "We haven’t decided yet."

"How much financial harm will this cause the company?

"It's hard to precisely quantify the damage. We'll have to check in the coming days."

Tnuva has 8,500 employees, of whom 5,000 are unionized. Simhi says, however, "The employees at Tnuva's subsidiaries are not unionized, but if necessary, they will listen to our instructions."

"Have you spoken with them?

"They are speaking with us. Only Arik Shor (Tnuva CEO) and the negotiating team, but that's not enough for us. They've only offered pennies, which is not serious."

Last month, Tnuva's workers committee asked the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) to declare a labor dispute at the company and initiate measures for a strike, after negotiations between management and employees on renewing the labor agreement broke down. The workers committee claims that, in recent months, they have shown restraint, because of the social protest, kept industrial quiet and regular deliveries of the company's products, in an effort to help it get through the crisis, which included a consumer boycott.

Nine months after Tnuva's previous labor agreement expired, the employees claim that that the company's chairman ordered management to hold talks with the workers committee "on breadcrumbs, while deliberately ignoring the company's profits, which are entirely due to the workers' hard work, restraint, and not cynically exploiting the consumer boycott."

Social protest organization Israel is Dear to Us said in response, "Tnuva, like the rest of the big food companies, acts as a monopoly that maximizes profits, both at the expense of consumers and on the backs of its workers. In conditions of real competition, Tnuva would cut prices to boost demand for its products and for working hands. Israel is Dear to Us calls on Tnuva's management to cut prices to boost production, instead of distributing bonuses to the controlling shareholders and hurting consumers and workers alike. In this way, Tnuva would embark on a new road called 'fair trade'."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on March 18, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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