David Levy 88 248.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
FORMER FOREIGN minister David Levy on Monday came out strongly on behalf of workers at the Pri-Galil processing plant in Hatzor Haglilit, who are in danger of losing their jobs unless a solution can be found to keep the factory from closing. Although the company is holding its head above water, its owners owe the banks NIS 180 million. Earlier this month some 150 of the company's workers came to Jerusalem to protest in front of the Finance Ministry and to meet with MKs. While they gained sympathy from MKs, they received nothing tangible, and sympathy, while welcome, does not pay the bills.
The company's creditors have tried to reach agreements with Bank Leumi and Israel Discount Bank whereby they would pay off a portion of the debt over a four-month period, convert some of it into company holdings and pay the balance out of business operations. But the banks rejected the proposals and the fate of the company and its employees now rests with the courts.
Levy, who was being interviewed by Yaron Dekel on Israel Radio on another subject, had heard an earlier interview with Yona Partok, the key Histadrut representative in the Galilee, and Moti Haziz, the head of the Pri-Galil Workers' Union. The two were at their wits' end, talking about the attempts they had made to keep the plant open to save some 700 families from becoming dependent on meager handouts from the state. They said none of the employees earns more than NIS 4,000 a month, and most receive minimum wage.
The hysteria and despair in their voices was not lost on Levy, who was a construction worker, union activist and mayor of poverty-stricken Beit She'an before becoming a Likud MK in 1969. Levy commended Dekel for bringing the plight of the Pri-Galil workers to public attention. He said attention should be paid to issues that are vital to the state, but government leaders all but ignore people living in peripheral areas, "proud, simple people who aren't looking for dolce vita or perks, but who just want to work."
There was a tendency to forget the problems of such people, who, when they came to Israel, lived in transit camps and were reduced to abject poverty before they found work, Levy said. Those who serve the public have an obligation not to deprive such people of their human dignity, he said.
Levy, who has not been inside the Knesset since he quit politics in 2006, will be there Tuesday at the first session of the 18th Knesset, in which his daughter, Orly Levy, will take her seat as a new Israel Beiteinu MK.
COLLEGE FOR All (CFA), a nonprofit organization that provides supervised educational and cultural-enrichment programs for children from broken homes, has announced that Google Israel CEO Meir Brand has joined CFA's board of directors. CFA has 21 working centers across the country and provides services to more than 1,500 children. Brand was appointed to set up and head Google's operations in Israel in 2005. He has an MBA from Harvard University and a BA in economics from Tel Aviv University.
CFA is supported by additional companies from the business sector, such as Psagot, Castro, Aladdin and HP. CFA provides a long-term program for children in which they receive personal, dedicated guidance from grades three to 12. The academic portion of the program includes homework help, coaching in basic subjects such as math, English and computers, advanced learning skills, and 16 weekly hours of instruction per child. University students serve as instructors, mentors and role models.
NOTHING LASTS forever, especially a job - though some people have been in their jobs for so long that they're considered part of the furniture. Among those in that category is Ya'acov Agmon, director-general of the Union of Local Authorities (ULA), who has been employed in various capacities at the ULA for 15 years. Agmon has notified Shlomo Buhbut, the recently elected chairman of the ULA, of his intention to resign.
Prior to joining the ULA in 1994, Agmon was director-general of the Kiryat Motzkin Municipality, a position that gave him hands-on expertise regarding the challenges confronting local authorities.
THE FEDERATION of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC), in preparation for worst-case scenarios resulting from the economic recession, recently held an emergency conference with the participation of 50 business leaders who chair divisions of the FICC, and in most cases hold the position of CEO in the companies they represent.
FICC president Uriel Lynn attributed the downturn of Israel's economy to the public sector, which he said was obstructing growth. Among the decisions taken at the conference was the intention to impress upon the new government the need to cut down on bureaucracy and to improve services in government offices.
SHOPPING MALL developer David Azrieli has received the green light from the Antitrust Authority for the purchase of the Givatayim Mall. Azrieli, who is the pioneer of shopping malls in Israel, finalized the NIS 795m. deal with Nochi Dankner toward the end of last year. The transaction was still subject to the approval of the Antitrust Authority, which ignored the objections of representatives of companies renting stores in the mall; they complained that Azrieli's Kanit Management Investment and Finance Company drives too hard a bargain on rentals. As far as the Antitrust Authority was concerned, this is all part of legitimate competition.