MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) and social-justice activist Alon-Lee Green have drafted a bill that would enable the workers of failing companies to take over the businesses with the help of a public fund.

The private member's bill, to be submitted to the Knesset right after the fall Jewish holidays, was crafted to help ailing companies such as Phoenicia Glass in the north and the Maariv newspaper. Maariv is due to be sold, with most of its employees expected to lose their jobs.

Employees of failed companies should not have to pay the price of management's mistakes and should be able to seek help from a public fund for distressed companies, Khenin said. The fund would provide financial support to let the workers take over the company.

The fund would set criteria for the employees to qualify for financial assistance and receive the right to run the company for a one-year trial period.

After that year, the firm would either continue to be managed by the workers as an employee cooperative, be sold to a new investor, or be shut down if it could not make a profit. In any of these scenarios, the fund would ensure that any compensation due the workers was paid.

The fund's chairman would be appointed by the Knesset speaker, and the fund would include representation from sectors including labor organizations, teachers, universities and the medical profession, in addition to the ministries of finance and industry, trade and labor.

"If the company's owner hasn't managed it successfully, there is no reason to compensate him by enabling him to sell the business to someone else," Khenin said. "Management of the company should pass to the workers because they have an interest in its success and are not responsible for its failure."

Playing down the notion that the bill is too radical, Khenin said: "Our radical reality requires radical solutions."