Hot Mobile matches Golan Telecom in cellular price war

In another sign of the fierce competition among cellular service providers that began in earnest in May with the launch of Hot Mobile and Golan Telecom, Hot Mobile announced last week that it will match Golan's NIS 49 monthly price for customers switching from other carriers. The rate is valid for the first six months and includes unlimited calling, texting and Internet access as well as international long-distance calling to a range of destinations. After the first six months, the rate at both firms increases to NIS 99 per month. Some restrictions may apply. For example, Hot Mobile customers who switch to the company in person rather than through its website get four months rather than six months at the introductory rate. Hot Mobile, which said last week that it had signed up 400,000 customers since its launch in May, also announced that it was joining long-time cellular firms Cellcom, Pelephone and Partner (Orange ) in taking orders for Apple's new iPhone 5 smartphone. (Amitai Ziv)

Railway workers ink agreement promising compensation even if reforms not carried out

In the coming year, Israel Railways employees will get a 25% salary hike and additional bonuses of NIS 42,000 to NIS 52,000 per person in exchange for the workers' agreement to structural reforms at the railroad and a commitment not to take industrial action for three year. An estimated NIS 100 million will be paid even if the reform does not take place. The agreement, signed on Thursday, provides for an immediate payment of NIS 12,000 to each of the state-owned railway's more than 2,100 employees. They will each get another NIS 15,000 next month to compensation them for the outsourcing of train carriage maintenance, but the payment will come before the shift to outside maintenance workers takes effect. Another NIS 15,000 will be paid as compensation for the privatization of 51% of the railroad's cargo subsidiary. In addition, the railroad's garage mechanics will each get another NIS 10,000.

Similar compensation paid to port workers following reforms in 2005 at the country's ports were criticized by the state comptroller. The port workers received NIS 50,000 in individual grants but did not abide by the limitations they were subject to, requiring that they not take industrial action and abide by the terms of privatization of some port operations. (Daniel Schmil and Avi Bar-Eli )

Ra'anana junction to get hotel

The Fattal hotel chain is to build a business hotel in the high-tech business park at the main Ra'anana junction adjacent to Route 4. The chain has agreed to lease 12,500 square meters of space in the business park, where it will develop a 175-room hotel geared for the business clientele in the area. The hotel is slated to open in June 2014 at rates projected at NIS 600 to NIS 800 per room. The Ra'anana facility will be similar in concept to Fattal's Leonard boutique business hotels in the Ramat Hahayal business area of northeast Tel Aviv and in Rehovot adjacent to the Weizmann Institute. The Ra'anana location is also slated to include an upscale restaurant that management hopes will draw people living in the area. "A hotel doesn't need to be in the center of a city to be successful," Fattal Hotels owner David Fattal said. "The hotel is geared primarily to business people coming to Ra'anana and Kfar Sava, and those coming to Meir Hospital." He said annual occupancy rates are projected at about 75%. "Some of the high-tech companies in the area put up employees and guests at our hotels in Tel Aviv," Fattal added, "and most of them would be pleased to have their guests closer." (Rina Rozenberg)