Yishai: Keep More Plants Open in War

Minister proposing amendment to redefine essential workers when war breaks out

Eli Yishai, the minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, proposes to amend the law, broadening the definition of essential workers at a time of war.

The proposal would require industry workers to come to work in wartime, to minimize harm to the economy. The definition would include workers at plants whose export is essential to Israel's economic strength.
Current law enables recruitment of employees on the basis of local population needs. Sources in industry noted that industrialists have pressed the ministry to promote this legislation.

But Senior Deputy Director General Eli Paz denied this allegation, explaining that the initiative results from the experience of the second Lebanon war.

But Paz did confirm that business owners and the Manufacturers Association had placed great pressure on him on behalf of factory owners in the North, including a leading food industry company, which he eventually added to the list, despite having rejected past demands that it be included. The president of the Manufacturers Association said in response that he had approached the ministry on behalf of only one factory.

Other companies on the list include Dov Lautman's Delta Textiles, and Sammy and Idan Ofer's Tower Semiconductors, added Paz.

"If Teva has a factory in a region suffering from a war, its employees would also be required to report for work," Paz added. The underlying logic of the initiative, he said, is "if export collapses, people will have nothing to live on." In addition, he noted, exporting factories may lose customers if their export is suspended for extended periods.

The list of companies included Supersol and Blue Square, which will be required to open their branches to supply food during particular hours, and Pharm, Superpharm and Neo-pharm, which operate pharmacies.

In addition, employees of the Israel Electricity Company in Hadera may be required to report for work, to avoid extended blackouts in the North.