As dollar weakens, manufacturers warn of 'economic disaster'

Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini said the crisis could "lead to the sacking of tens of thousands of workers this year."

Local industries may be forced to fire thousands of workers unless a response to the tumbling value of the dollar is formulated, business leaders said Sunday at an emergency conference held by the Manufacturers Association of Israel in Tel Aviv. "Two weeks ago, I said the dollar's crash was a national disaster, and some thought I was exaggerating," Manufacturers Association of Israel president Shraga Brosh said. "Since then, the dollar has decreased further by 4 percent. I can say unequivocally, if the dollar remains where it is, we are certainly on course for an economic disaster." "Unfortunately, under today's rates, we are selling at a loss and we're losing new tenders," he said. "We will be forced to minimize production lines and fire workers." Motorola CEO Elisha Yanai called for the "taming" of currency speculators. "We have to make sure they don't do us in, because that is what they are doing and this must be stopped," he said. "Inflation is, at the end of the day, a flu," Yanai said. "We'll die because we'll have to fire people." Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini said the crisis could "lead to the sacking of tens of thousands of workers this year." "This is a problem for us no less than it is for you," he said. "Let's come to a decision that we have to take this crisis to the streets. We have to cause the prime minister to call an emergency meeting with the governor [of the Bank of Israel], the Manufacturers Association of Israel's president, anyone else connected to the decision-making process." Eini said he would "do everything to prevent the firing of workers, including a one-day general strike to wake up the government." Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai said he was "very anxious over the dollar's deterioration and its influence on exports and the firing of workers." "It is my firm conviction that government intervention is a must," he said.