Operations at Hadera Paper’s central facility have been halted since Friday due to an open-ended strike by 370 unionized workers.

The workers are represented by the Histadrut labor federation and employed through a collective wage agreement.

Although this group of employees constitutes just a small portion of the company’s 3,000-strong workforce, the stoppage has inflicted damage on the company because of the key positions that the striking workers hold.

As a result of the strike action, the plant has stopped producing both white paper and recycled paper.

The strike was launched over the unionized workers’ demand for continued payment of a 4.5% bonus that has been paid annually.

The workers oppose having the bonus tied to the company’s financial results, while management has been insisting on such a change.

“This is an unethical and irrational strike that endangers the source of the livelihood of thousands of workers of the Hadera Paper group,” the company’s VP for human resources, Zvi Abramovich, said over the weekend.

The workers initiated less drastic labor sanctions last Tuesday after the expiration the previous day before of a 14-day cooling-off period (the waiting period before which action can be taken following the declaration by the Histadrut of a labor dispute).

After disagreements remained unresolved between management and the unionized workers during the week, the full strike was launched on an open-ended basis.

The publicly traded company, which is controlled in turn by Clal Industries, reported a third-quarter loss of NIS 61.2 million, following two previous profitable quarters.

Management sources at Hadera Paper said the average salary of the striking employees is NIS 25,000 per month, adding that these wage costs must be reduced under current circumstances.