Shraga Brosh: Industry has lost NIS 1.6 billion so far

Economic paralysis in the rocket-riddled North has caused NIS 1.6 billion worth of direct financial damage to Israeli industry alone, Manufacturers Industry of Israel President Shraga Brosh estimated Thursday. "If the government does not ultimately compensate employers for war damages, hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses will collapse and will not be able to pay workers' wages," Brosh said, adding that the businesses are already suffering severe cash flow problems and difficulties filling orders. The estimate did not include direct rocket hits, nor did it include loss of future orders or the businesses' loss of existing or potential clients. "On one hand, the defense authorities are requiring workers to stay in shelters and protected rooms, and on the other hand, the government is not ready, for now, to compensate factories and businesses on the immense damages - that are growing daily - they are being caused due to the war in the North," Brosh said. Brosh lambasted two law proposals recently submitted to the government - one requiring employers to pay workers a "state of emergency fee" equivalent to their wages, and the other protecting workers' jobs during the crisis - as "futile," since they do not address employers' losses. Following a meeting Thursday, it was determined that a joint task force of the Finance Ministry, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, the Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations, and the Histadrut labor union would examine ways to compensate employers and workers, and address concerns of eventual lay-offs.