Shuttered Israeli Factory to Reopen Tuesday

Pri Hagalil plant will receive NIS 18 million grant, following high-level meeting between owners and government officials.

The Pri Hagalil canning factory in Hatzor Haglilit, which has been closed since Friday, will reopen on Tuesday following government assurances that the plant would receive a grant.

The factory's owners abruptly shut it down on Friday, sending its 220 permanent employees on unpaid leave.

Hatzor Haglilit factory - Yaron Kaminsky - February 2012
Yaron Kaminsky

The plant has become the focus of a well-publicized dispute recently, with its owners claiming the government never made good on a pledge to deliver a NIS 18 million grant, and government officials claiming the factory never qualified for government assistance.

On Monday, the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee held an urgent meeting on the matter, following which senior government officials met with Pri Hagalil's owners. The officials agreed to fast-track legislation allowing the government to award the grant.

Histadrut labor federation representatives praised the decision, saying, "We hope that now it will be possible to resolve the issue once and for all, so that the workers will not need to go through additional distress."

Knesset Economic Affairs Committee Chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen said that former Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer had indeed promised the NIS 18 million grant, adding that the government must uphold its promises. He also criticized the owners of the factory, saying, "It seems that they are using the workers as a means to attain business objectives."

Ben Eliezer confirmed promising to arrange a grant for the factory, but said that his resignation from the government in January 2011 - when Ehud Barak left Labor to establish his own party, Atzmaut – had prevented him from doing so.

Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry official Hezi Tzaig said that the decision to award the grant to the factory required new legislation, adding that when that happened, his ministry would transfer the necessary funds to the factory.