Business in Brief

Jump in job opportunities in December mostly in retail

The number of job openings in the private sector rose last month by 5.6%, from 59,300 in November to 62,600 but was still 8.7% lower than the figure in December 2011. According to Central Bureau of Statistics figures released yesterday, the largest gain was in retailing positions with 2,700 more opening than the previous month. Total positions going unfilled rose from 2.7% in November to 2.8% in December. After peaking in November at 2.1%, the rate of openings in the electricity and water industries slid back to 1.7%. The number of jobs available in the building trades also continued to shrink, as well as for engineers: 3,115 openings in December compared with 3,580 in November. (Moti Bassok)

Court employees sent home on account of filth

The State Employees Union told everyone working at Tel Aviv's district and magistrate's courthouse to go home yesterday in the middle of the day due to the building's filthy condition, after cleaning workers there went on strike Monday. The cleaning and maintenance crew, employees of the Ovadia Brothers group, which was recently put under liquidation after piling up NIS 86 million in debts, complained they hadn't been paid their December wages. While the court administration claimed it transferred the entire sum owed the workers to the liquidator, their supervisor said the liquidator demanded that the workers deposit security checks against their wages amounting to 70% of the amount owed them. "Everyone here works for minimum wage and doesn't even have a clue how to use checks," said the supervisor. Meanwhile the liquidator said she has asked the court's permission for an alternative to extend loans to the workers. (Yasmin Gueta)

Postal workers charge age discrimination in layoff scheme

Israel postal service workers targeted for early retirement petitioned the courts Sunday for a restraining order against the Israel Post, its worker representatives and the Histadrut labor federation in response to a decision to fire them at the end of the month. The request by 15 workers, all between ages of 56 and 63 and employed at least 35 years with the postal service, comes two weeks after the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry's equal employment opportunity commission demanded that the company cancel the collective agreement, which allows it to terminate 50 employees who have accumulated maximum pension rights. Regional commissioner Shiri Lev-Ran blasted the agreement as being based on arbitrary, discriminatory and illegal criteria, i.e. the workers' ages. (Haim Bior)

Businesses shouldn't bank on election day sales

Will election day help pull businesses out of their recent slump? Based on previous elections, sales are expected to pick up on January 22 when most people get a day off work, but revenue growth is not expected to be a great savior. In the last election in 2009, retail stores saw a 12% rise in the number of sales compared to normal days, but the shekel amount of each sale paid for by credit card was actually less than average. The average credit card sale was NIS 464 on the days preceding election day, and only NIS 390 that day. All told on election day 2009, total sales revenues rose only 7% over an average day. The figures for the 2006 elections were better, but still showed only a 21% jump in sales. (Adi Dovrat-Meseritz)

Olivier Fitoussi