May Day: Thousands demonstrate in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Nazareth and Beer-Sheva for workers’ rights

Thousands of people marched in Tel Aviv and Haifa Thursday evening to mark International Workers Day. Other rallies were held on Saturday in Nazareth and today, Friday, in Beer-Sheva.  In Tel-Aviv, carrying red flags and banners from Hadash, the Communist Party of Israel, the Young Communist League of Israel, “Koach LaOvdim” (Power to the Workers) unions and other minor groups, the demonstrators marched from Habima Square to Meir Park shouting slogans against “Shilton HaHon,” or “against the regime of capital” in English.

MK Dov Khenin (Hadash), who led the march to raise minimum wage to NIS 30 per hour (from the current NIS 23.12), said that in 2014, marking the May Day was as relevant as ever.

Young Communist League activists during the May Day rally in Tel-Aviv, May 1, 2014 (Photo: Eli Gozansky)
Young Communist League activists during the May Day rally in Tel-Aviv, May 1st, 2014 (Photo: Eli Gozansky)

“In recent years in Israel, this date once again became a symbol of the battle of working people,” MK Khenin said journalists. He praised the recent wave of new unions being formed “from Pelephone to Domino’s Pizza.” “More and more workers in Israel refuse to accept the existing situation of exploitation and are fighting for their conditions and salaries. They are determined, full of ideology and are inspiring. This is their day and I salute them,” he added. MK Khenin listed the many goals of the march: “We want the people who live here to really be able to live here, for the working man to have a roof over his head, for the elderly not to have to choose between food and medicine, for women to have equal pay, for workers to be employed by and receive their rights from their workplace [as opposed to manpower companies], that people won’t be discriminated against because they’re Arabs or handicapped or gay or over 40, and that the government’s money will be invested in raising minimum wage and poor neighborhoods instead of bombs and settlements. “There is nothing old or irrelevant about demanding that men and women living here now have a future of equality and peace,” he added. “We live in a country with major equality gaps and where most of the poor are working people, waking up in the morning and coming home at night after a long day’s work only to continue to live under the poverty line – we say enough,” Khenin declared from a podium at Meir Park.

Khenin said in the May Day meeting at Meir Park that the minimum wage in Israel was the lowest among all Western capitalist countries and that the only way to effect change and raise salaries was through a different government. “The future is not in the settlements and occupation of the Palestinian territories, but in social justice,” he said. “We need to replace this extreme-right-wing government and together we will provide a different response for our society.”