Union Moving to Oust Leumit Chair

'Let him prove his innocence elsewhere'.

Michael "Miki" Zoller may soon be out of a job. The National Workers Organization (NWO) is moving to oust him as chairman of its healthcare fund Leumit after five years on the job, because of mounting suspicions against him. While about it, the NWO intends to thoroughly restructure Leumit and, effectively, to forgo control by voluntarily losing its domination over the board of directors.

NWO chairman Yoav Simchi says that the organization has begun the process of ousting Zoller, "and the sooner the better."

Among other things, the NWO has asked the Health Ministry, as supervisor over Leumit, to sanction such a move.

"This can't be only our move. It has to be done together with the Health Ministry and Finance Ministry," says Simchi. "I hope they cooperate and that we can together find the right people to run the healthcare fund... I believe in advancing the best people - and I mean people with skills, not contacts."

The suspicions against Zoller touch on his functions at the union pension fund, which has led to a criminal investigation by the Israel Securities Authority and the appointment of a special manager to the pension fund.

Meanwhile the NWO has sent out feelers to see if Zoller would be willing to resign with dignity. He has been the strongest person at Leumit, and aside from chairing the healthcare fund, represented the NWO's interests on the Leumit board. "A person with so many suspicions against him, who claims he's innocent - he'd do best to declare temporary incapacity and prove his innocence somewhere else, not take the whole ship down with him," says Simchi.

However, if Zoller refuses to voluntarily ride off into the night, the NWO will act to have him fired, Simchi says. "We aren't a union of corrupt people. All that matters to us is the members."

Simchi points out that the NWO has been reformed, and the previous management headed by former Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson, "which had been tainted with corruption," was removed. "It hurts me that people treat us as followers of Hirchson and his gang. We aren't like that," Simchi insists.

As for control over Leumit, the proposal is for its management to be chosen by public committees headed by judges, based on public criteria, not back-scratching. The NWO's share of the board of directors would drop to a third. The proposal has yet to be approved by the Knesset.