Discount Workers Fume Over Exec Pay

"We won't let the management's bonuses pass in silence. After demanding negotiations the workers of [Israel] Discount Bank received a bonus of 1.5 [monthly] salaries, and today we learned that the bank's management took for themselves dozens of times that amount," said the head of the bank's union, Riki Bachar, yesterday. "It is an unacceptable situation in which the salaries of all the workers are less than that of 12 executives. Discount reported that the wage costs of six senior officials is NIS 20 million. We will not stand for it," he explained.

Bachar spoke at a union meeting, called in order to respond to the salaries, bonuses and other perks paid to the senior executives, 12 of whom received an options package estimated to be worth NIS 113 million. Of this amount, NIS 70 million will go to the chairman, Shlomo Zohar and CEO Giora Offer. The bank made the sums public this week in advance of a shareholder assembly on the matter.

A drawn-out labor dispute at the bank ended only a few weeks ago. The workers received a 12 percent salary increase for the period of 2004-2006. They had demanded larger wage increases and bonuses based on the bank's profits.

Management had hoped the agreement would lead to a long period of quiet at the bank, but now it seems likely the dispute will break out again, causing further sanctions and disruptions.

Discount's management refused to comment on the matter yesterday.

Dispute at FIBI

The Histadrut Labor Federation officially declared a work dispute at the First International Bank, at the union's request.

After a cooling off period of two weeks, the workers will be entitled to start sanctions or strike. For now, the dispute does not include managerial staff.

The cause of the dispute is the bank's refusal to pay the 1,800 members of its union bonuses based on 2004 profits. The bank has only agreed to pay for 2005.