IMI board threatens 500 layoffs by end of month
The Israel Military Industries (IMI) board of directors last night turned to Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz with a demand to push forward the vital decision to privatize the company. IMI's board told the ministers that if no decision on privatization has been reached by the end of this month, the company will be forced to unilaterally cut 500 employees.
The employees under threat of being laid off were among 950 employees whom it was previously decided to lay off following negotiations with employees representatives and the Histadrut, General Federation of Labor, and who cost the company NIS 200 million per year. However, IMI has so far avoided laying off the workers in the hope that the cutbacks will only be made as part of a comprehensive streamlining within the framework of privatization.
The latest events come in the wake of a crisis between IMI and the Ministry of Finance after it refused to give the government-owned company state guarantees for new arms deals in overseas markets. The Ministry of Finance's opposition has created a furor at IMI and sources close to the company say it is as if the ministry is punishing IMI over delays in the privatization process.
In their approach to the ministers, IMI's board said that it has refrained from laying off employees at the express request of Ehud Barak not to do so in a unilateral way. In the opinion of IMI's board, the minister must now make a quick decision on the subject and reach agreement those matters that are in dispute regarding privatization.
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