MK Katz offers to help keep ‘Ma’ariv’ alive

Workers, management of 65-year-old paper to enter negotiations ahead of restructuring plan; Labor MK Shai: Newspaper needs a miracle.

July 9, 2013 23:03
2 minute read.
Maariv Building.

maariv building 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Ma’ariv has no way to ensure its reporters’ employment, even if it doesn’t close, the paper’s deputy editor-in-chief Elad Tene told the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Tuesday.

Amid rumors that Ma’ariv, together with religious-Zionist newspaper Makor Rishon – both owned by Shlomo Ben- Zvi – would stop being published as early as Tuesday morning due to financial troubles, Labor Committee chairman Haim Katz (Likud) said he will do all he can to resuscitate the 65-year-old newspaper.

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“We will have political influence, we will put pressure, get involved, mediate and turn to the Histadrut [labor federation],” Katz said. “Ma’ariv must continue to exist.”

Ben-Zvi bought Ma’ariv, which was already in severe debt, in November 2012, keeping only a fraction of its journalists and converging the paper into his company, Makor Rishon Hatzofe Hameuchad.

In the weeks leading up to the sale, the newspaper’s workers led a campaign against the previous owner, IDB, demanding it pay their salaries, pensions and severance packages.

Katz praised Ma’ariv’s management for negotiating with the newspaper’s workers, but called for Ben-Zvi and his staff to be more transparent and give those workers facts and numbers even if the law does not require him to do so.

“Both sides should do their part to save Ma’ariv,” he added.

Yair Tarchitsky, leader of the Ma’ariv Journalists’ Union, said relations between workers and management were tense and that the latter was not giving the former enough information.

“They told us we have to accept a restructuring plan basis, or else the newspaper will fold,” Tarchitsky explained.

“We asked to negotiate, and they said there’s nothing to talk about. They’re putting a gun to our heads.”

Tarchitsky added that he feels the paper’s management is trying to break up the union.

Despite this, he and Ben-Zvi plan to enter negotiations Tuesday night, and Tarchitsky expressed hope that they will be able to overcome their differences.

Tene said that he hasn’t slept a full night for two months, because the company is falling apart.

“Ben-Zvi announced that despite a loss of NIS 60 million, he is willing to allow the newspaper to survive under certain circumstances,” he explained. “If the restructuring plan is not accepted, 420 people will go home [unemployed].”

Katz asked Tene who can guarantee that the workers will keep their jobs even if they accept the plan, to which the editor responded: “There are no guarantees.”

MK Shuli Muallem (Bayit Yehudi) wondered why the government is not bailing out Ma’ariv – as it did Channel 10.

“If management continues kicking its workers, their desire to mobilize and help the paper will decrease,” MK Michal Biran (Labor) said.

MK Nachman Shai (Labor) expressed doubts about Ma’ariv’s future.

“I accompanied several newspapers that closed. Ma’ariv needs a miracle. It could be that Israel HaYom is the solution; it could buy Ma’ariv and Makor Rishon,” Shai suggested.

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