Business in Brief

Polling station guards getting less than minimum wage

The tender issued for security personnel to man polling stations on election day calls for security guards are to be paid NIS 900, whereas their employers are actually obligated to pay them NIS 1,090 - the minimum to which they are entitled under the wage agreement in force for the 19-hour shift. Even though the stated amount works out to a seemingly generous NIS 47 per hour, election day is deemed a "day of rest" for Israel employees, entitling them to double the basic hourly wage. In addition, the 19-hour shift entails two overtime hours at a 25% premium and the balance at a 50% premium. Security agencies, offered NIS 1,280 per guard, claim they would lose money if they paid guards more. The agency issuing the tender said the rates were set by the Public Security Ministry and Israel Police, and approved by the Finance Ministry's Accountant-General. (Haim Bior )

Eggplant and tomato prices skyrocket because of labor shortage

The sharp rise in eggplant and tomato prices portends increases for other fresh produce prices, Dov Amitai, president of the Farmers Association, said yesterday. Eggplant and tomato prices have soared from NIS 3 to NIS 4 per kilogram to as much NIS 10 per kilo . Growers expect to be short 4,000 Thai workers this year, which will force them to cut back on planting and leave them with losses amounting to tens of millions of shekels. Amitai also attributed the price hikes to higher costs for water and other inputs. The Interior Ministry's Population, Immigration and Border Authority said it is aware of the problem and raised the quotes for Palestinian farm workers by 2,000 recently. Officials said that the remaining shortfall would be filled by laborers from Sri Lanka within the next several weeks. (Gabriela Davidovich-Weisberg )

Matomy Media Group acquiring MediaWhiz for $10m

Matomy Media Group is purchasing U.S.-based digital marketing agency MediaWhiz outright for an estimated $10 million. It will be the second acquisition for Matomy, which bought the Adperio digital media and advertising agency in July 2011. Matomy said MediaWhiz's 100 employees and $75 million annual turnover would boost the group's workforce to 350 and yearly revenues to $230 million, not including Adperio. The merger will boost Matomy's North American operations to 50% of its overall activity, with 35% in Europe and 15% in Latin America. (Maya Epstein )

Van Leer Institute: Netanyahu government privatized key function

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government instituted an unprecedented level of privatization for core functions in realms of security, law, and strategic planning, according to a report issued yesterday by the Hazan Center for Social Justice and Democracy at Jerusalem's Van Leer Institute. It said most of the privatization took place without parliamentary oversight or public discussion, and that trends can be seen developing of reduced transparency, increased reliance on contract labor, and the privatization of supervisory oversight. He cited as example the contracting out development of a police training academy to a private company and contracting the U.S. Rand Corporation to help produce a 15-year strategic plan for government socio-economic policy. (Moti Bassok )