IMI Workers, Suppliers Face More Late Payments

Israel Military Industries' woes worsened once again yesterday: Not only was it forced to announce that it would not be able to pay its 2,900 employees their August salaries when they are due today, but a supplier has asked the Tel Aviv District Court to have the company liquidated.

Both developments follow on the heels of a suit filed by the company's 1,200 pensioners in the Tel Aviv Labor Court on Wednesday.

The pensioners are asking the court to order IMI to pay them on time from now on, after they have been paid late several times during the last few months. Yesterday, they finally received their August payments, a week late.

Ultimately, the pensioners would like to persuade the government to transfer responsibility for the payments from IMI to one of the pension funds.

The liquidation request was filed by Agam Metal Works, which said that IMI owed it NIS 1.16 million, of which NIS 964,000 should already have been paid. Agam said that in light of IMI's severe cash crunch and its repeated failure to pay workers and pensioners on time, the company should simply be liquidated. IMI has not yet responded to the suit.

IMI officials said that salary and pension payments are likely to be late in the coming months as well, unless a recovery program is implemented pronto.

But Yitzhak Yehuda, chairman of the IMI workers' committee, said that he would agree to negotiate with management over such a plan only after IMI has paid all the money it owes its workers. This includes not only salaries, but also deposits into pension funds, advanced training funds (kranot hishtalmut) and provident funds.

Management said that it is up-to-date on payments to these various funds, but the workers' committee disputes this.

IMI said in response, "Management is making every effort to pay salaries to the workers early next week" and hopes that the workers' committee "will reconsider and hold negotiations on IMI's recovery instead of preferring media appearances."