Friday, July 6

Not only bread

Since a day, it has become impossible to buy fresh "standard bread", that simple bread known as "white" or "brown" or simply as "sliced". No need to add the word "bread".
In Jaffa this means, pita bread only from now on.
No doubt there is little change in the fancy stores in Tel Aviv's northern neighbourhoods, where fancy "designer" breads from various boutique bakeries fight for shelf space. At 15-20 NIS a loaf, these breads are never seen in Jaffa (for comparison, a standard bread costs about 3.70 NIS). The large industrial bakeries, who make hundreds of thousands of standard breads every day, wish to raise the price of these loaves by 12.5%, due to the raise in flour prices world wide, or so they claim.
As the price of standard bread is controlled (just like that of a few other standard foods, such as flour, sugar, salt, milk, soy bean oil, simple rice, eggs, butter, white and cottage cheese etc. in order to enable the poorest of poor at least food security) by the government, they need permission for a hike.
As permission has not yet been given, the bakeries have simply stopped making the standard breads, thereby making it impossible for many families to buy that very basic item, which makes up a significant part of their menu.
Moreover, they threaten to fire 800 employees, if they will not be allowed to sell the bread for more.
In the mean time, they make more fancy bread, which they can sell for much higher prices.
The minister of trade & industry, Eli Ishay states he will not allow the raise, unless the poor families are given a slight raise in their social security allowance, of 2.5 NIS a month.
Yeah right, that will surely reimburse them! 2.5 NIS a month covers the price hike for exactly 5 standard loaves!

The point of course is not the price of bread, but rather the continued cuts in social allowances, the refusal to hike up the minimum wage in any significant way and the lack of effort to control all those private manpower agencies, who are today the main employer of people employed in low wage jobs, such as cleaning, secretarial work and security guarding.

The problem is poverty. Poverty is NOT solved by adding 2.5 NIS to the social security payments.
Poverty is not solved by enforcing low basic food prices.
Poverty is solved by a combination of higher minimum pay, better social security payments, enforcing labor laws in regard to employment conditions as a higher minimum wage, as well as advancing education and vocational training for all.

Yes, it is bad if bread will be more expensive or not available. It is horrid if indeed 800 bakery workers will be made redundant (i don't entirely buy that story by the way), the discourse on bread puts the emphasis in the wrong place.
Poverty is at the source of the problem and the bread price will not solve that.
The solution lays elsewhere.

And in the mean time, pitot and home baked bread!

1 comment:

mike marcus said...

I think that poverty is a social issue and in Israel to be more precise its a racial issue. Before poverty can be solved, there needs to be racial equality between the Ashkenaz elite, Oriental Jews and non-Jewish Israelis.