Court Okays Supersol-Clubmarket Deal, Lock, Stock and Collective Work Agreement

The Tel Aviv District Court approved the agreement under which the Supersol supermarket chain buys out rival Clubmarket.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Danya Kareth Meyer yesterday approved all the terms of the agreement under which the Supersol supermarket chain is buying out rival chain Clubmarket, including the restrictions imposed by Antitrust Commissioner Dror Strum and the agreements hammered out with the employees.

Strum's guidelines were approved in full in order to enable the transfer of Clubmarket's management today, but the judge did criticize Strum's request to be involved in the sale of the 17 Clubmarket branches that are not part of the deal. Judge Kareth Meyer called Strum's demand "bemusing," adding it implies a lack of trust in the chain's court-appointed trustees, Gabriel Trabelsi and Shlomo Nass.

"It seems to me that there must be a complete separation between the sale of these branches and the supervision of the sale, in order to guard the interests that the commissioner is charged with preserving," the judge wrote in her decision. "The sale itself is clearly under the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court; that is separate from the supervisory authority of the commissioner, because the actual sale will be implemented while preserving free competition, customer interests, etc."

The judge added that in light of the fact that the branches will not be sold immediately, the approval [of the overall sale] will not prevent the trustees from going back to court for this matter.

Under the agreement, a total of NIS 157 million will be paid to Clubmarket employees. This amount includes NIS 60 million that will be paid to workers as compensation for agreeing to waive their existing collective work arrangements as they are taken on as Supersol workers, losing their existing seniority.

According to the agreement, all Clubmarket employees are being dismissed from the chain and rehired immediately by Supersol under its (reduced) terms of employment. Supersol expects that 400 Clubmarket workers and 600 current Supersol workers will be dismissed in the months to come.

Six hundred to 700 long-term Clubmarket employees, who will see their salaries halved under the new arrangements, will receive compensation packages totaling NIS 60 million. Workers who do not want to join Supersol will retain their rights to severance pay.

The Histadrut labor federation has promised to refrain from strikes or work action at Supersol for 27 months. The Clubmarket workers committee will continue as a separate entity, and the management has agreed not to prevent it from defending the rights of its members. However, sources at Supersol say there will be no reason to maintain two separate committees once the merger is completed.