"If there is no wage agreement that will provide compensation for inflation and the cost of living by January 2023, the Histadrut will use all its forces to bring about a change in the balance of power, to the point of a general strike and the closure of the country," Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David said last week.
Bar-David made it clear that his demand for the signing of the agreement does not depend on the results of the elections, and will stand even if the election system is not decided and Israel goes to further elections.
"It does not interest me,” he said. “I gave the State of Israel a year to organize itself after COVID. The state of the Israeli economy has improved with a collection of surpluses. We have a rich country with poor citizens.
“I was responsible and state-oriented during recent years and certainly in the last year after COVID. They ate all the profits and there was still enough to go around. January 2023 is my target date, the watershed. We are looking forward to a new wage agreement. If we fail to produce the wage agreement we need, I'll go all out.
Bar-David also referred to the Histadrut's struggle against the rising cost of living, after he turned last week to the CEOs of the marketing chains with the demand that they not allow price increases.
"At the moment they are not responding to us in writing for one reason or another, but from my conversations with them it appears that my request falls on attentive ears and there is not a single chain that intends to raise prices,” he said.”
"In the previous wave of price increases, the Histadrut's strong and clear voice on the issue stopped the price increase and put it on the agenda," Bar-David added, expressing disappointment that the state itself is not acting on the issue. According to him, even after the holidays, at a time when many chains claimed that they intend to raise prices, he is in contact with the major entities and companies in the economy in order to prevent this.
Bar-David added that the Histadrut is currently working on establishing the first socialized supermarket, which will probably operate in an online format and will offer about a hundred products with parallel imports and subsidies, with an emphasis on products similar to those that have recently become more expensive and were included in the boycott list published by the Histadrut in August as part of the struggle.
"These companies and anyone who tries to raise prices here on the backs of the citizens will be punished," said Bar-David. "I call on the parties: start dealing with this matter, put it on your agenda, because otherwise it will explode and there will be a very serious civil protest here. If prices rise, we have an orderly plan to demonstrate in the streets and set the country on fire."
This article was translated from Hebrew by Matt Levy.