Discount Buyers, Workers' Reps Meet Today

Representatives of Israel Discount Bank's employees and its new owners are to meet Monday to discuss arrangements after control of the country's third-largest bank passes into the hands of Matthew Bronfman.

Workers' committee chair Ricki Bachar is likely to work out a deal with Bronfman's representatives that will be finalized only after MI Holdings, the government agency handling the bank's privatization, reaches agreement with the committee regarding the rights of its 5,500 members.

Both sides have met lately to improve the difficult atmosphere that has permeated labor relations and to avoid further work disruptions, which have led to Monday's expected meeting.

Prior to this, Bachar will meet with MI Holdings chair Michal Abadi and Finance Ministry representatives to bridge remaining differences over workers' rights. The two remaining issues are MI Holding's demand to spread out its payment of a sale bonus of NIS 250 million to workers over several installments and the workers' demand to prevent the sale of Discount assets.

Bachar commented Sunday that "the meeting with MI Holdings and treasury representatives is formal, and we are not getting our hopes up." In contrast, he added, however, that "the understanding we reached with the buyers' representatives, according to which they will wait to sign the final deal until an agreement is reached with us, provides us with a security net and guarantees good labor relations at the bank."