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Just one day after Supersol bid nearly NIS 1 billion for Clubmarket, workers at the troubled chain are threatening to thwart the sale.

After meeting with Supersol CEO, Effie Rosenhaus, and Histadrut labor federation representative Yoram Orenstein, the chairman of the Clubmarket workers' committee, Albert Ashur, said: "The meeting only strengthened my opinion that I must act to torpedo the deal."

Clubmarket is under court protection from its creditors, having run up debts of NIS 1.3 billion. The court-appointed managers offered the chain for sale this week prior to the end of the protection period next week. Six groups submitted bids, and Supersol, the largest supermarket chain in the country, outbid the next best offer by NIS 400 million. The large bid has put pressure on the antitrust commissioner to approve the deal despite the ensuing concentration of the retail sector: Clubmarket is the third-largest supermarket chain in the country.

"The price at which Clubmarket is being sold to Supersol, some NIS 1 billion, is too high," Ashur said yesterday. "That is taking into account that most Clubmarket workers will have their pay cut, and hundreds of other workers will lose their jobs. Some of this will be due to duplication, and other veteran workers would prefer to leave voluntarily than take pay cuts."

Ashur called on Clubmarket's managers, Shlomo Nass and Gabi Trabelsi, not to rely on the Supersol bid, "which in the end calls to dismantle Clubmarket and rival chains," and to consider other offers. "We would prefer a small chain as buyer, because such a buyer wouldn't harm our work conditions."

Supersol denied Ashur's claims of scheduled dismissals and pay cuts if its bid is accepted. "Clubmarket workers will profit from this purchase," a company spokesman said.