Histadrut threatens strike over Mega branch closures

Mega says 5 branches to close leading to 65, not hundreds, of layoffs.

February 17, 2015 18:43
1 minute read.

Supermarket.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The Histadrut labor federation is threatening to strike the Mega supermarket chain over its plans to close several branches and fire dozens of workers.

Though early reports suggested 10 stores would be closed and hundreds would lose their jobs, Mega maintains that just five branches would close, leading to 65 layoffs – those in Betar Illit, Netivot, Yavne, Kiryat Yam and Or Akiva.

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Reuven Perry, head of trade and retail at Histadrut, sent a letter to Mega CEO Moti Keren saying that unless negotiations were held over the fate of the workers, they would call on all 6,500 of the chain’s workers to go on strike.

“We are announcing that as long as there will not be a formal announcement canceling Mega’s previous announcement that it will close branches, the Histadrut will weigh legal actions and organizational action up to a general strike on the chain,” the letter said.

Mega accused Histadrut of using the media for its negotiations and providing inaccurate information, saying it was trying to adjust to the cost structures of a changing retail market and the high cost of living.

It also said it is making efforts to find workers who lose their jobs alternative work in other Mega branches.

“We consider our employees and their livelihood a top priority and are working with the union out of shared responsibility, both for the management and the workers, to keep the strength and success of the company, even in this challenging time,” the company said.

The union and management had been in negotiations over an alternative plan that would not reduce the work force, under the auspices of economist Yaron Zelicha, a left-leaning economist and former Finance Ministry official.

Among the ideas under consideration are cutting salaries to save tens of millions of shekels.

Moshe Kahlon’s Koolanu Party said the strike threat was the result of the “Lapid-Netanyahu government,” which it said had accomplished nothing.

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