Hadera Paper plans to fire over 200 workers

Operations at plant were suspended Friday in wake of strike by 375 unionized workers.

Workers protest at Hadera Paper  370 (photo credit: Shlomi Gabai/Hadera News)
Workers protest at Hadera Paper 370
(photo credit: Shlomi Gabai/Hadera News)
The management of Hadera Paper Ltd. convened on Saturday night ahead of its plan to lay off between 200 and 250 of a total 800 employees.
Operations at the plant were suspended last Friday in the wake of a strike by 375 unionized workers. The workers, represented by the Histadrut labor federation, began an open-ended strike to demand that unionized employees continue to be paid 4.5 percent bonuses annually. Management responded by shutting down the factory, halting the production of both white and recycled paper.
The Economy and Trade Ministry summoned representatives of management and workers on Thursday to an urgent meeting in Tel Aviv in an attempt to mediate between the parties, but it failed to break the deadlock.
CEO Ofer Bloch accused the union of refusing to compromise.
“We don’t want to fire anyone, but we don’t have a choice,” Bloch said. “Due to the global drop in the demand for white paper as a result of the digital revolution and the losses our company has suffered, we are obliged to make cuts.”
The publicly-traded firm, which is owned by Clal Industries, reported a thirdquarter loss of NIS 61.2 million after significant losses in the first and second quarters of the year.
Management sources said the average salary of the striking employees was NIS 25,000 per month, and the situation was intolerable.
The workers are demanding that Bloch end the shutdown and restore their bonuses.
Union chairman Adi Hananov urged the CEO to reconsider the dismissal of workers. “I hope that Ofer Bloch will have the wisdom to listen to the workers and stop the destruction of a plant they have helped create for the past 60 years,” he said.
Last Saturday night, hundreds of workers protested outside the company’s main factory in Hadera, blocking its entrance and forcing Bloch to require a police escort to leave.
On the previous Tuesday, workers instituted partial sanctions after the expiry of a 14-day cooling off period following the Histadrut declaration of a labor dispute.