Written by Amnon Halbersberg

I worked as a delivery boy at “Buddha Burgers” restaurant branch on Yehuda HaLevi, Tel Aviv in June 2013. As you can imagine, being a delivery boy on a bicycle in June was not simple at all. It was hot, I sweated a lot and my salary was based solely on tips with no promise of a particular amount of deliveries each day. Work was not always so enjoyable, however, each time I would arrive at the branch to collect deliveries, I was reminded of the people who had it the worst – the kitchen and cleaning workers.

As someone who traveled many times to incorrect addresses, I will admit everyone can make mistakes. However, I remember many times there would be a mistake in an order at the restaurant and the fault would fall on the kitchen workers. Even on the mistakes that were not under their supervision and control, they were always at fault. In addition to this, the workers began to accept the constant yelling to work faster as routine.

After I quit the restaurant I started national service at “Kav LaOved,” an organization whose mission was to help workers claim their rights. Each time I would see refugees arrive with their salary stubs that did not include the most basic rights such as extra hours, holidays, and vacation and sick leave, I would always be reminded of my peers at the Yehuda HaLevi branch.

And here is Arie Reva, the founder of Buddha Burgers, who published yesterday a status on Facebook discussing the closing of the branch following lawsuits against the restaurant. On the one hand he claims it is our moral duty to help asylum seekers and employ them, while at the same time, claiming that no business can employ them and obey labor laws. This concession is based on a false and misguided perception that migrant workers and refugees are not eligible to receive the same rights and conditions as Israeli workers and that the Israeli law does not apply to them. The truth is that the labor laws apply to all workers in Israel irrespective of their status.

Kav LaOved does not represent the workers suing the Buddha Burgers restaurant. However, it is important to understand how this situation, like many others, ends in lawsuits. Many employers choose not to pay rights obligated by law to workers for long periods of time. By that time, lawsuits can amount to large sums of money – money that workers deserve to receive. Sometimes the workers succeed in receiving their rights only after getting to court.

300 Facebook users saw this status and many continued to complain of the future closing of the business that encourages a vegan lifestyle. In my opinion, as a vegan, protecting the rights of animals does not suspend our obligation to honor human rights and the rights of workers.