Off Haemek to Reopen Aug. 1

"The Off Haemek slaughterhouse will reopen on August 1, and to do so I will need 100 new workers to join the 200 existing ones," said Rami Levy yesterday, the owner of the eponymous supermarket chain and the new owner of Off Haemek.

Levy said he was satisfied with Wednesday's decision by the Haifa District Court, which in practice denied a request to declare the poultry slaughterhouse bankrupt in order to sell off its land for development.

"From my business [perspective], the court's decision did not change much, but it serves the interests of Off Haemek's employees, who will not lose their livelihoods," said Levy.

The slaughterhouse closed its doors on March 23 and will reopen in just over a month, as the new owners need to take several steps first, including appointing a new manager, and signing agreements with poultry farmers and customers.

Levy's Shivuk Hashikma chain will be one of the big buyers, he said.

The reborn slaughterhouse will need new workers, since Levy plans to expand production from 25,000 birds a day to 40,000 - but using only existing equipment and without investing in expansion.

Levy is not planning to produce other food products at the plant, and hopes to start making a profit within six months of restarting operations, he said.

The Histadrut labor federation reached an agreement with Levy and his partners that they would continue to employ 62 workers under a collective bargaining agreement, said Shai Teken, the head of the legal bureau of the Histadrut's trade union branch. It is better the workers continue being employed than the land be sold off for real estate development, he said.

Most of the workers have been at home collecting unemployment since the plant closed.