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‘The party is over’: Histadrut chair urges consumer boycott amid rising prices

Arnon Bar-David says import giants Diplomat, Kimberly Clark and Schestowitz are ‘taking advantage of the political chaos’ and ‘abusing’ the public

Tobias (Toby) Siegal is a breaking news editor and contributor to The Times of Israel.

Histadrut labor federation chair Arnon Bar-David calls for a consumer boycott of import giants Diplomat, Kimberly Clark and Schestowitz amid rising prices, July 26, 2022. (Screenshot/Histadrut)
Histadrut labor federation chair Arnon Bar-David calls for a consumer boycott of import giants Diplomat, Kimberly Clark and Schestowitz amid rising prices, July 26, 2022. (Screenshot/Histadrut)

Amid rising prices of consumer goods, Histadrut labor federation chair Arnon Bar-David has called on Israeli consumers to boycott several companies that recently announced new price hikes.

In a speech Tuesday, Bar-David urged the Israeli public to boycott import giants Diplomat, Kimberly Clark and Schestowitz, which have recently announced they were raising the prices of most of their products by 5-15 percent.

“We, the citizens of the State of Israel are not prisoners of anyone,” Bar-David declared. “A company that abuses the citizens will have to deal with the consequences of its actions through a consumer boycott that we will implement starting today.”

Bar-David’s call to action comes after Diplomat — which imports Gillette, Heinz, Milka and Starkist products, among others — announced last week that it will move forward with its planned price hikes of up to 16% for some of its products. The company had planned to raise prices earlier this year but put the process on hold, fearing sanctions by the government and a public uproar.

Kimberly Clark Israel and Schestowitz followed suit, with the former last week announcing 5.5%-9.6% price increases for most of its products, and the latter announcing price hikes of 5%-14%.

While the Economy and Finance ministries fought adamantly against the price increases earlier this year, they have refrained from doing so this time, after recently announcing price hikes in several government-regulated products like bread and eggs.

Israelis shop at the Rami Levy supermarket in Modi’in on July 21, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

“Schestowitz, diplomat, Kimberly Clark, the party is over. These are the first three companies. Any company that takes advantage of the situation and raises prices disproportionately — we will go after them,” Bar-David said, calling on Israeli consumers to stop buying these companies’ products.

“There are substitutes for everything,” he said.

Bar-David argued that the price hikes were “a cynical attempt to take advantage of the political chaos” in the country and claimed that the financial situation of these companies “isn’t bad,” citing transportation fees that have been significantly reduced in recent months.

“We all see the differences in prices when visiting other countries. The prices [in Israel] are crazy, [these companies] are making double-digit percentages off of what they charge in Europe. Why? Are we patsies?”

Bar-David said he met with Prime Minister Yair Lapid and urged him to intervene.

“I told him that this process fell on our watch, and I expect him to lower the cost of living. Happily, it fell on attentive ears,” he said, warning that if he doesn’t get answers from the government soon, he will “take to the streets and shut down the country.”

The Histadrut chair said he has allocated a NIS 40 million ($11.7 million) budget toward fighting the rising cost of living and will soon be launching a public campaign.

Bar-David noted that beyond the consumer boycott, concrete steps need to be taken in order to reduce rising costs of housing, electricity, education and other services and said it was the government’s responsibility to provide solutions.

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