SodaStream fires 60 Palestinian employees

SodaStream fires 60 Palestinian employees

Carbonation machine company sacks workers who complained about quality of food provided for Ramadan break-fast meal

A Palestinian worker speaks with his Jewish employee at the SodaStream factory in the Mishor Adumim industrial park, February 2, 2014. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
A Palestinian worker speaks with his Jewish employee at the SodaStream factory in the Mishor Adumim industrial park, February 2, 2014. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

SodaStream, which makes home carbonation machines, fired 60 Palestinian employees this month from its plant in Ma’ale Adumim because of a dispute between management and the employees over the quality of food that should be served to them at the end of the Ramadan fast.

The disagreement resulted in a worker’s strike, triggering their immediate dismissal, Israel’s The Marker economic daily reported.

According to WAC-Maan, the workers union representing the Palestinian employees at SodaStream, there was a day in which the employees working that evening were served a break-fast meal that seemed inadequate.

“So 60 employees found themselves without adequate food after 16 hours of fasting for Ramadan, at a company, Sodastream, that forbids them to bring food from home for kashrut reasons,” WAC-Maan Jerusalem coordinator Erez Wagner told The Marker.

According to Wagner, the Palestinian employees approached SodeStream management and made ​​it clear they would have difficulty working the night shift without an adequate break-fast meal, and that in such an weakened condition it was for them to operate such large machinery. During the conversation, one of the managers accused the employees of creating conflict on the same day that kidnapped Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel, and Gil-ad Shaar were buried.

“The employees denied this and made ​​it clear that they wanted to solve the problem so they can return to work, and discussed with management a number of different solutions”, said Wagner.

According to Wagner, eventually the shift manager informed the disgruntled employees the shift was cancelled for the rest of the day, and promised that the problem would be resolved the next day.

“The next day every single one of the night shift workers received a notice that stated the management had decided to dismiss them. The employees were invited to return to the plant to return their employment card and collect their personal belongings, but in the end were met with hostility and refused entry. SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum proudly presents the plant as an oasis of coexistence between peoples, but the reality is very different.”

Sodastream’s management said: “The employees were fired because they took the law into their own hands and went on a rowdy strike for no practical reason.” Company officials said, “We regret that WAC-Maan chose to turn to the media before comprehensively reviewing the facts.”

According to these officials, the process of firing the employees was perfectly legal, and a hearing was held for employees and they will not be denied compensation.

“Palestinian employees went on strike and shut down the production lines of the plant with no connection to food. We will not accept a situation where the workers, the moment food doesn’t appear, shut down the plant and demonstratively ignore their supervisors.”

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