Unions Vow to Fight for Tefron

Labor leader Ofer Eini came out swinging yesterday for the worried workers of clothing manufacturer Tefron, who stand to lose their jobs as the company struggles to survive.

"We will not sit by. There is no chance that 1,000 workers at Tefron, which operates in an unemployment hotspot, will be thrown out all at once. This isn't just Tefron's problem," Eini said at a meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee.

Sources at the Histadrut labor federation, which Eini chairs, vowed yesterday that the umbrella organization would pick a fight with the state unless it helps Tefron.

The state seems reluctant, though. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that the treasury is watching. "But to tell the truth, as we told Zim and said in other cases, Tefron has very strong owners," he added. "They enjoyed vast profits during good years, until a year or two ago, and now they should be the ones to help the company."

Swiping at Steinitz, Eini said that "the treasury hasn't done a thing." It would be cheaper for the taxpayer to fork over NIS 40 million to help Tefron than to pay unemployment benefits to 1,000 workers, Eini said.

Manufacturers Association president Shraga Brosh also took aim at Steinitz: "The person who should have been here is the finance minister himself," he said. "If the finance minister says he won't help the companies, let him come here and tell the Knesset members so."

Brosh met last night with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has told his director-general, Eyal Gabay, to work on a solution for Tefron. The solution would involve money infusions by its owners and some support from the state.