Sharon area gears up for mass firings

The Histadrut's Sharon branch has opened a special "situation room" to deal with the flood of retrenchments expected in the current economic crisis and to help those who have been fired financially and legally, reports Branch head Yohanan Natanzon said that many people have already lost their jobs in the Sharon area and "hundreds" more are expected to do so in the near future, and the office had taken on additional lawyers to advise and assist those retrenched. According to the report, the office decided to open the situation room after 100 employees were fired recently from the Beit Loewenstein rehabilitation hospital in Ra'anana and the Shalvata psychiatric hospital in Hod Hasharon. Natanzon said the extra lawyers were helping the retrenched hospital employees even if they were not Histadrut members. He said the situation room was receiving numerous calls every day from worried workers and was collecting information on retrenchments and expected retrenchments in the Sharon area, with the aim of detecting attempts to fire large numbers of workers and "trying to lessen the severity of the sentence." "We are very fearful of what will occur in the coming days," Natanzon said. "We receive a great many telephone calls. Especially in the high-tech field, which was known as a strong area and with a smaller trend toward firing; there are now many more workers calling, and we are taking care of them all. We are seeing serious problems in hotels, in industry and in high-tech companies. To my sorrow, there will be a big wave of firings with which we will have to deal." In another report, a survey by the Israel Association of Electronics and Software Industries has found that 73 percent of Israeli high-tech companies expect to fire 10% to 15% of their employees in the foreseeable future, reports The survey questioned 49 high-tech companies, of which 62% employ more than 100 people and 37% have yearly sales of more than $50 million. The report said the survey results meant that about 7,000 high-tech employees would lose their jobs in total, and with many of the high-tech companies situated in Herzliya, Ra'anana and Kfar Saba, the Sharon area would be hit hard. An association spokesman also said the loss of 7,000 jobs directly from the high-tech field would cause the loss of 28,000 more jobs in support industries, and in addition would mean that thousands of new graduates would struggle to find jobs. Meanwhile, the city of Ra'anana has reached an agreement with its Municipal Workers' Committee that it will not fire any municipal employees in 2009, reports But at the same time it will offer "attractive" retirement packages to veteran employees and will not replace them or hire new employees next year.According to the report, a Worker's committee spokesman said that it was well-known that a "difficult period" was beginning and that many local authorities would be forced to fire workers. The spokesman said he was pleased that the committee had reached an understanding with the city that it would not fire employees. A municipal spokesman agreed that there would be no firings, except in extraordinary circumstances such as defective job performance or the commission of a crime. At the same time, veteran employees would be offered "attractive" retirement packages and new employees would not be hired, unless there was a specific need that could not be met by current employees.