factory worker
Factory flawless: Offis’ workplace in Azor, home to 240 contented workers. Photo by Daniel Tchetchik
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Two and a half years after the Pri HaGalil factory at Hatzor-HaGlilit was saved from closure and was sold to the Hatzi Hinam supermarket chain, 58 workers were laid off Tuesday, 25 of them veteran employees.

"On the day when we remember the razing of the temple, the homes of 58 families are ruined," said union head Motti Haziza, referring to the Tisha B'av Jewish day of mourning Tuesday.

The new owners invested NIS 17 million to cover money owed to the workers and an additional NIS 27 million to farmers and other suppliers when they rescued the factory in 2009.

An additional 140 employees were hired and the work force was increased to 280, with a further investment of NIS 87 million in new production lines and the refurbishment on old ones.

However, the owners say they did not receive the promised support from the Investment Center, which was supposed to cover 24 percent of the funds invested.

Workers say that the company was hit with the rising price of water, a NIS 750,000 fine for the construction of a wall without permits, and other expenses, "created the sense that the [new owners] were being squeezed as much as possible."

"We feel that the state is trying to drive investors from the north instead of encouraging them to come to the north," Oshik Efraim, chairman and CEO of Vita Pri HaGalil, told Haaretz.

The factory owners said that following a request by Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, they decided to put off by two weeks the firing of another 60 employees.

Two weeks ago the union declared a labor dispute and said they intend to initiate a strike tomorrow. There are currently 250 regular employees and hundreds of temporary employees, depending on the seasons and the produce that requires packing.