Thousands Laid Off During War, Union Estimates

Some employers are abusing the situation to fire expensive workers, says Jihad Akel

The Histadrut labor federation estimates that between 1,000 and 1,500 workers have been fired since the fighting in the north broke out 16 days ago.

According to the head of the union's situation room, Jihad Akel, layoffs began on the fifth or sixth day of the war.

Akel said that his estimate of 1,000 to 1,500 dismissals was extrapolated from conversations with thousands of workers.

Some reported that their employers had suffered substantial reductions in activity, which adversely affected the job situation.

Akel said that the most common reason for the layoffs was the fact that many workers were unable to reach their work places due to the security situation. Many were told to stop coming altogether and that pink slips would be issued shortly.

He also cited paralyzed marketing and loss of contact with suppliers, which shut down production lines and rendered many workers redundant.

"The firings are occurring mainly in the private sector, such as factory workers, workshops, drivers, security guards, sales clerks and workers employed through agencies, as well as workers in the tourism sector, such as at bed and breakfasts, restaurants and tourist attractions," Akel said.

According to Akel, if the security situation does not stabilize within a few days to a week, the wave of pink slips will gather momentum. He said that the Histadrut is cataloging complaints from workers over layoffs in order to file complaints against unjustified dismissal with the labor courts.

"We will file the complaints only after calm is restored and only after labor tribunals in Haifa and Nazareth reopen for routine operations," Akel said.

Akel noted that some employers are taking unfair advantage of the situation to end contracts with long-time expensive employees, who can be replaced with cheap temps.