Layoffs planned at food-packing plant Pri Hagalil have been substantially scaled back, after agreements were reached yesterday about help from the state for the company.

The series of agreements was struck between the company's owners and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. Out of 58 people issued pink slips last week, 30 jobs have been saved. Sixty more employees who were supposed to be fired last month have also been spared the ax.

Motti Haziza, chairman of the Pri Hagalil union, said the workers still facing dismissal are temps affected by seasonality.

Unfortunately, he said, it is the nature of the industry that every year, at the end of the harvesting season - mainly of corn - the temps that do the packaging get fired.

Meanwhile, the Pri Hagalil plant continues to serve as a Mecca for would-be chairmen of the Labor Party. A few days ago Amir Peretz, a candidate for the Labor leadership and former chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, visited the plant in the town of Hatzor Haglilit, in northern Israel. Yesterday, fellow Labor leadership contender Shelly Yachimovich paid a visit, and called on the Finance Ministry to urgently ratify the understandings reached between the company's owners and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, lest people doing manual labor lose their jobs.

"All they want is to make a living for their families in dignity," Yachimovich said.

The Knesset member, a former journalist, held a long meeting with Haziza and also talked with Pri Hagalil workers on the production line.

The company had been all but shut down before its takeover earlier this year by Zaki Shalom, owner of the Hatzi Hinam discount-supermarket chain, but he clarified that he couldn't keep it afloat without changes, including the dismissal of 58 workers immediately and 60 the next month. Most of those jobs have now been saved.