Veterinary Labor Issues Could Mean Chicken Shortage

A Rami Levy supermarket. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Chicken may be in short supply next week, the Israel Poultry Association said Thursday. That’s because a series of labor disputes which are coming to a head will see chicken production grind to a halt beginning Sunday – unless workers and veterinary staff agree not to strike.

The main dispute revolves around work conditions for veterinarians and agricultural safety supervisors, who as of March 1 will be reorganized into a new state-sponsored authority. The change brings with it new work schedules, and workers are protesting those changes. Several workers are expected to be laid off as well.

The Association, which represents poultry growers, is seeking an injunction against the strike, as chicken slaughter cannot take place without veterinary supervision. If the strike is allowed to proceed, chicken production will come to an immediate halt, with supplies likely to run out by the middle of next week.

The Histadrut, which represents the veterinary workers, said the strike comes “after a long period in which negotiations reached a deadlock. The Histadrut and workers protest the state’s failure to live up to its commitments that it would negotiate the conditions of workers who are to retire or be laid off as a result of the organizational transition. In addition, many of the workers who will be moving still do not know what their salaries and work conditions will be,” the union added.