It’s countdown time for the Israel Broadcasting Authority. With only 40 days left before closure and the launch of its replacement, the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, IBA employees are becoming increasingly anxious about their future.
On Tuesday morning, they held a mega meeting in Romema, where the main IBA studios are located, and called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to honor his promise to rehabilitate the IBA.
“We don’t want severance pay or pensions,” they shouted. “We just want to continue working and earning a livelihood. There are a thousand families with no solution in sight.”
In the afternoon, there was an angry protest demonstration outside the Finance Ministry and some participants got into a scuffle with police.
It was not the only disturbance in which IBA workers were involved on Tuesday. Some of them attended a meeting of the Knesset Economics Committee and vociferously protested against the closure of the IBA, accusing chairman Eitan Cabel of collusion with those who sought the IBA’s demise.
They claimed that Cabel, who had once been the minister responsible for the IBA, abandoned them. They were so disruptive that they had to be escorted out of the meeting.
Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn, who has been accused of not doing enough to protect the interests of IBA workers, together and Ariel Yakobi, chairman of the Histadrut state employees’ division and heads of workers’ unions, announced on Monday that sanctions would be taken in solidarity with IBA employees in all government ministries. The sanctions were slated to begin with the Health Ministry, in which work in all divisions was suspended on Tuesday morning from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Nissenkorn called for more IBA employees to be taken on as staff by the IBC, which has been limited in the size of its payroll. This could result in the dismissal of people who have already been hired by the IBC, and it looks like a lose-lose situation.
Prior the demonstration outside the Finance Ministry, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, speaking at a Calcalist conference, said that help will be given to the people who are dismissed from the IBA. He emphasized that his ministry would intervene in humanitarian cases, such as a husband and wife both currently employed at the IBA who will find themselves without jobs, single parents and people with physical disabilities.
“My heart is with hundreds of IBA workers,” he said. “The new broadcasting law was enacted when I was a private citizen, and the IBA was delegitimized. I came to a ready-made situation. In the final analysis, we are talking about public funds, and I had to take care of the cash box.”
Kahlon declared that he would not allow the humanitarian cases to be thrown out into the street on the eve of a holiday. “We will find a way to help them be absorbed into the IBC or to become state employees,” he said.
As for fears of political interference in the workings of the IBC, Kahlon said that he had pledged that the IBC would have freedom of expression as well as journalistic freedom, “and that pledge will be kept. There will be no political supervision. There will only be professional supervision. There is a lot of public money involved, and supervision is not a rude word. Channels 2 and 10 are also supervised.”
Representatives of IBC have repeatedly said they are ready to go to air, and on Tuesday reiterated their readiness at the Knesset Economic Committee.
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