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Jerusalem Life

| Why restaurants turned out their lights for 8 minutes on the 8th night of Hanukkah

Chaya V    
Sunday, 09 December 10:34 PM
Translated with permission from Poenta, a news site focusing on consumer affairs in Israel.

How many times have you paid a NIS 60 for a salad or NIS 70 for a breakfast? Even though prices are high in Israeli restaurants, many find it hard to survive because of the heavy expenses of running a restaurant in Israel. Recently, the straw seems to have broken the camel's back, resulting in an unprecedented protest in Israel: Hundreds of restaurateurs turned out the lights in restaurants tonight, the eighth candle of Chanukah, at 19:45 for eight minutes. This was a sweeping protest that by restaurants, cafes and bars, who are concerned about closure due to harsh regulation of the restaurant industry.

More than 1000 restaurateurs darkened their restaurants as a sign of solidarity with the struggle, including Mitt Bar, the NG Brothers, and the R2M group, which includes the Coffee Bar, the Brasserie, Hotel Montefiore, Delicatessen, Tokyo, and Herzl 16, Restaurant Cafe Da Daud, Nordoi Restaurant, Bar Aven, Cafe Jeremiah, Agadir Hamburger Chain, River Network, Mexana Grill, Pastel Restaurant, Dubnov Coffee Shop, Lendvor, Benedikt, Cocoa, Tati, Lahmina, Raviva and Celia, Campai Restaurant from Beer Sheva, Rothschild Cafe in Givatayim, Thai Tzin in Kiryat Tivon, 9 Beach Eilat, La Pizza in Afula, Entrecote Restaurant in Petach Tikva, Restaurant Y’fela in Jerusalem, Margoza, Wildflowers from Modi'in and many other restaurants, bars and cafes.

During the 8-minute darkness, diners were to receive a paper explaining the struggle and its causes.

What are the reasons for the restaurant protest?

Law on the levy of foreign workers

Imposing a 20% tax on the employment of foreign workers who are in Israel under the auspices of the state (not those who arrived as experts from abroad). The state also charges the tax retroactively 6 years back. Restaurateurs protest that these are huge expenses that will cause restaurants to collapse.

Foreign Workers' Deposit Law

A law that the restaurateurs regard as an unworthy law aimed at harming Israeli employers: "On our backs, the state is trying to expel the population of asylum seekers. The raising of financial difficulties for productive business owners in Israel is disproportionate and inappropriate."

Ruling on the waiters' tips

At the beginning of 2019, the court's ruled that tips paid in restaurants and cafes will be considered as income of the business, paid as wages to the service employees. The employer, in turn, will have to pay the waiters benefits based not just on the minimum wage, but also on their incurred tips.

We recall that this is a judgment given in March 2018 by Judge Yigal Fleitman, who criticized the fact that the issue of the tip was never regulated by laws or regulations. His ruling stated: "The tip money should be considered the income of the restaurant, and any income of the waiter shall be deemed to be his income from his employer. This, even if the tip was paid directly to the waiter; even if he did not pass through the cash register; even if paid by means of payment separate from that through which the meal was paid; and even if it is not recorded in the restaurant books or in the service log. "

Shortage of workers

Restaurateurs also note that cooks, dishwashers and service providers are missing throughout the country. The state does not help the industry to incentivize Israelis to work in these jobs, and on the other hand it collects taxes and laws against those who can work in Israel.

Vocational training

According to the restaurateurs, the state has a theoretical budget of NIS 300 million for professional training, but it does not allocate funds to train cooks, pastry chefs and managers in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Increase in wages, raw materials, and suppliers

According to the restaurateurs, in the past three years wages have jumped 33% while menu prices have remained unchanged. Likewise, industry vendors have raised prices by up to 15% again, with no rise in menu prices.

The Tip Issue

Recently, restaurant representatives met with representatives of the Tax Authority regarding the issue of waiter tips. In a panel held at the end of October at the Tax Counselors' Conference in Eilat, Amramar Mor, head of the "Strong Restaurateurs Unite" association and owner of the Jeremiah restaurant in Tel Aviv, said that in 2008, profit stood at 17%, while in 2018 it stands at 3%. Twelve thousand businesses with a turnover of 20 billion shekels a year employ about 200 thousand workers, including about 100 thousand waiters. We expect someone to understand the distress and start dealing with the problems. "

The Tax Authority, on the other hand, expressed a firm stance, and attorney Michal Toledano of the Authority said in a panel that the Tax Authority believes that tip revenue is business income.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the restaurateur's protest, and the portions at the restaurants will increase in order to reduce the economic damage to restaurants.


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