Ma'ariv worker protesting
A protester stands in front of the Ma'ariv building with a sign reading 'Where is the shame?' Photo by Alon Ron
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The issue that brought the employees of Maariv out into the street this week for angry demonstrations was a warning from the workers committee that they may never see the severance pay and pension money due them.

The union learned the bad news at a meeting with management where they were told that over the year, Maariv's owners had not set aside all the money required to cover the cost of the payouts. Workers mainly blamed Ofer Nimrodi, whose Israel Land Development Corporation controlled Maariv Holdings until 2010. ILDC management denied that it was at fault on Tuesday.

"During the period that ILDC was the controlling shareholder, there was no problem regarding set-asides relating to obligations in the employer-employee relations, including provisions for pension, provident and advanced-training funds," the company said. ILDC pointed out that control of Maariv had been sold twice in recent years - once to Internet entrepreneur Zaki Rakib and then to Nochi Dankner's Discount Investment Corporation.

"In the framework of the due diligence conducted by these two buyers, the issue of Maariv obligations to its workers was examined in a detailed and fundamental manner," ILDC said. "In both cases, it was found that all the provisions due employees had been made according to the law."

Nevertheless, TheMarker was told that there is in fact a wide gap between what Maariv set aside in practice for severance, and what the company would actually be required to pay out if it were forced to lay off all of its staff. This gap is due to the increase in salaries over the years, which was never fully reflected in provisions for severance.

That gap, according to estimates given TheMarker, amounts to about NIS 31 million. In the event that Maariv Holdings is broken up, that money would be counted as a creditors' claim, meaning employees would have to line up with bondholders and others to get their money.