'Ma'ariv' employees rage against impending layoffs

Protesters outside the newspaper's building jeer owner Nochi Danker, and repeatedly shout “where’s the money."

Ma'ariv workers protest impending layoffs 370 (photo credit: ben hartman)
Ma'ariv workers protest impending layoffs 370
(photo credit: ben hartman)
Hundreds of Ma’ariv employees burned tires and blocked a major Tel Aviv intersection on Tuesday, expressing their rage at the newspaper’s impending closure and the possibility that many will not receive full compensation from the company.
Protesters outside the Ma’ariv building jeered the paper’s owner Nochi Danker, and repeatedly shouted “Where’s the money” and “No termination without compensation.” It is expected that around 1,600 of the paper’s 2,000 employees will be fired after Ma’ariv is sold by Dankner to Shlomo Ben- Tzvi.
Hagai Matar, head of the committee of Ma’ariv journalists, said that they are working together with the Histadrut labor federation to try and arrange a meeting with the paper’s management where they can sit and hammer out negotiations.
Matar said they want to see what the paper’s debts are and how much of the employees’ salaries can be paid. He added that employees have only received one-third of their August salaries and were told they would receive the rest by Rosh Hashana, but that there is no certainty about the September paychecks, employee pension funds or severance packages for the time being.
Also on Tuesday, hundreds of Haaretz employees announced a strike and demonstrated outside the office of the paper’s management, to protest against wide-scale layoffs expected at the paper in the near future.
The employees protesting outside the Ma’ariv building on Tuesday were joined by members of the Israel Journalists Association, as well as journalists from other Israeli outlets who came to show solidarity.
Holding a sign that read “Yediot Aharonot workers together with Ma’ariv workers,” Yana Pevzner Bashan, a reporter for Yediot Aharonot, said that she came to show solidarity with the Ma’ariv employees, and not necessarily just as a fellow journalist.
“True the era of the printed press is fading away, but I’m here for the same reason I would go to other protests to show solidarity with people suffering. This country is headed for an abyss.”
The Israel Journalists Association said Tuesday that they are demanding the management of Ma’ariv put employees’ pension funds in a safe and guaranteed account. They added that their primary interest is to see that the terminated employees receive all they are legally owed, before the issue of saving Ma’ariv is discussed.
Ma’ariv chairman Dani Yakobi issued a statement Tuesday night in which he said that he would start negotiations to sell the paper’s printing press in Bat Yam in order to raise money to pay employee salaries, which he vowed will be paid by Rosh Hashana.
Ben-Zvi also owns the right-wing daily Makor Rishon. He is expected to merge Makor Rishon and the editorial operations of Ma’ariv together, and provide jobs to between 300- 400 former Ma’ariv employees.
With the sun blazing outside and tempers flaring, employees and supporters crowded in the lobby of the Ma’ariv building where they demanded to meet with management.
At one point, a few employees made their way outside carrying a Rosh Hashana gift basket that they said was meant for head of manpower Tamar Regev, and tore it open on the sidewalk.
A senior officer with the Tel Aviv Police said that they were following the protest but made the decision to deal with it in a delicate manner, saying that “at the end of the day, these are people who have lost their jobs, and the holidays are coming up; there is no reason for us to add to that.”
"Standing to the side in the lobby was Yoram Ne’eman, a 60-year-old graphic artist with 33 years at Ma’ariv under his belt. The father of two said he is worried that he will not receive his severance pay, his full pension fund, or the many vacation days he has built up over the years.
Ne’eman said the fact that his impending termination is coinciding with Rosh Hashana doesn’t bother him much, in that “Rosh Hashana is just one month; mortgage and bills are every month.”
Ne’eman looked back over the decades spent working at the iconic Tel Aviv building, saying “I can’t believe it is happening, the world of the media is a desert wasteland, and we’re on our way to extinction.”