(photo credit: none)
Confusion surrounds the future of the Motorola
manufacturing plant in Arad. For the past week media reports have been
warning of closure of the town's second largest employer, but on
Wednesday the company said it would not be closing the factory and
rather will be introducing new production lines to the plant.
the Arad plant, which manufactures mobile phones, car phones and
radios, has been gradually downsizing its labor force for the last two
years, a report last Friday stated that the company was considering
shutting down the production facility and moving operations to China. A
report in Friday's The Marker stated that the company's president,
Elisha Yanai, had approached the government, requesting that they
provide tax relief for the parent company Motorola International in
exchange for keeping the Arad plant open.
Since then there have been multiple reports in the media
speculating that the plant would either be closed or sold to a foreign
company and that the 500 employees would either be fired or forced to
become external contract workers.
The rumors became so pervasive that politicians decided to take action to prevent the plant's closure.
Monday, Likud MK Carmel Shama and Israel Beiteinu's Alex Miller called
for an immediate debate on the matter in the Knesset's Finance
Committee. A press release presented by Shama read: "It is in the clear
economic interest of the State of Israel to keep the Motorola plant in
existence; therefore, if it is necessary to provide the factory with
extra ordinary benefits, we should all enlist and do everything
possible to prevent its closure. Together with the members of the
Knesset I plan to use all the parliamentary tools available to save the
factory from closing."
Arad Mayor Gideon Bar Lev said the plant's closure was not just
Arad's problem, but a national problem. "The state should do everything
possible in order to make sure that Motorola doesn't leave," said the
mayor in a phone interview.
Bar Lev explained that the problem was a drop in
the number of orders the company was receiving and the crisis
accompanying the fall of U.S. currency rates. "All the hi-tech
companies are in the same boat in this," he said.
Bar Lev said that he had approached the minister of finance and
the Prime Minister's Office, but that ultimately the solution would
have to come from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. "I
approached them too and told them they had to come up with an offer to
convince the company to stay. Motorola employs 400 people, 65 percent
of them Arad residents.
"It also provides for nearly 1,000 families who are employed by
second-layer contractors and helps us out with aid to the community.
Losing it would be very bad for the city," said Bar Lev.
The ministry told The Jerusalem Post that a request for
response had come from the mayor, but offered no solution, saying that
the ministry was "studying the matter."
Motorola Israel is now downplaying the issue. On Wednesday the
company's spokeswoman released the following statement: "Contrary to
wrongful reports in the media regarding the closure of the factory in
Arad, Motorola is clarifying that there is no basis to the reports. On
the contrary, the company is looking into several options for
increasing the activities of the plant, which is without a doubt one of
the best of its kind in the world, which employs skilled personnel and
is based on the most advanced technologies. Among other things,
Motorola is considering introducing new producers that will increase
the product basket and production capacity in the Arad factory, as well
as in the labor force."