Quite often the media covers the drama behind factories shutting down and the dismissal of employees that come with it. But what happens to those employees after the drama is over, and the media moves on to the next story? How does this experience affect the employees in the long run?
Led byThe Public Broadcasting Corporation’s journalist, Tzlil Avraham, participants in The Movement for Public Journalism returned to the employees of Polgat in Kiryat Gat that were let go in 2008 when the textile factory shut down. We wanted to see what happened in the past decade and look at the long run implication of closing a major factory on its employees. The project turned into a chapter of “Hayot Kiss”, the podcast most listened to in Israel in 2020 (with 300 thousand monthly downloads). You can listen to it here:
You can read the story behind the project through the tweets of Tzlil Avraham on Twitter.
“Some behind the scenes on the chapter of “Haiot Kiss” that came out this morning. Two years ago, The Movement of Public Journalism invited me to join a program called “Journalism, For a Change”. In this program a group of young people who are interested in social activism take part in journalism work, guided by a journalist.
We formed a small team and started a project which we called “The Polgat Task” (I think this was Shaul Amesterdamski‘s idea). I wanted us to find all of the people who were fired from the Polgat factory in Kiryat Gat in 2008, and see where they are today. This was a way to find out the meanings of the consequences of closing the textile industry in the country, on a small scale.
And since most of the employees were female, and fairly senior, who were fired a few years before their pension, maybe we would understand something about raising the pension age for women. The members of the team started making phone calls and worked on them for a couple of months, and I went with one of them to interview two of the women who were fired ten years earlier, Elena and Rosa.
The interviews were very interesting, but as the program continued we found out that calling 300 people, when you don’t have a list of their names and phone numbers, and when some of them don’t speak Hebrew, and that the event was traumatic to some - it took a lot more time than we thought."