Tefron, Molitan Find Funding

Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini met yesterday in his office with the controlling shareholders of the Tefron textile company, Ishay Davidi and Meir Shamir. The two said they "will do whatever is needed" to save the plant, and also committed to investing new funds in Tefron.

The seamless underwear, swimsuit and sportswear manufacturer in the Segev region in the Western Galilee has lost its main overseas customers including Nike. It owes the banks $35 million and lost NIS 48 million in the first nine months of the year.

Eini has invited representatives of the involved parties - the banks, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, the Finance Ministry, Tefron and the union - to a meeting next week.

"I told the Knesset Finance Committee last week that I will not let a factory such as Tefron close under any circumstance. There 1,000 people employed there, all of them residents of the periphery," Eini said. "Closing the plant means throwing these workers into unemployment since there are few job possibilities in the Galilee," he said. In addition, Eini said he had the impression the owners were willing to save the factory and that next week the parties involved would take action.

Davidi's FIMI investment fund and Shamir's Mivtach Shamir investment company are Tefron's two largest shareholders.

Businessman Zvi Meir signed an agreement yesterday to operate the Molitan textile plant in Nahariya, which was on the verge of closing after it has been unable to pay employees and suppliers for months. The 100 employees will return to work on Sunday. Molitan manufactures sewing thread.

Judge Adi Zarnakin of the Haifa District Court approved the agreement between the court-appointed receiver and Meir's textile recycling companies.

Meir will operate the factory until Jan. 8, 2010 at the earliest, but no later than March 31. Meir committed himself to provide all the funds needed for the period to allow the company to function as a going concern, up to NIS 1.2 million. Meir also said he intends on reaching a collective bargaining agreement with employees.

At the end of this period, if the factory shows a loss Meir will be reimbursed by up to NIS 600,000.

The Histadrut praised the agreement. Asher Shmueli, the head of the Histadrut's Western Galilee region, called it a "Hanukkah miracle." He said: "This case proves that the banks cannot lock up factories and send the workers home."