Vita Pri Galil Sale Put Off a Week

The Haifa District Court in principle approved the sale of Vita Pri Galil to Hetzi Hinam yesterday, but Judge Alexander Keasry made it clear that this was not the final approval of the deal with Kuperly-Shalom Investments, the owner of Hetzi Hinam.

Final approval was delayed for a week at the request of the food processor's court-appointed special managers, who first want antitrust approval and to finalize agreements with employees and farmers and other suppliers. The court will convene again next Thursday after the managers present details of the agreements by Wednesday.

Unsecured creditors objected to the sale, mostly suppliers. They claim they are being discriminated against, as others, including the farmers and workers, have received promises of receiving their entire debts.

Vita Pri Galil owes NIS 263 million, NIS 147 million of which is going to Bank Leumi and Israel Discount Bank.

Hetzi Hinam, managed by Zaki Shalom, asked to include all the employees of the concern in the agreement they signed on Wednesday with the workers at Vita's Hatzor Haglilit factory. The deal, signed with the local union and the Histadrut labor federation promised the 150 permanent workers and 300 seasonal employees a 5% wage increase. Shalom also promised to hire 100 more permanent workers, and guaranteed that previous benefits and seniority would continue under the new owners. 140 other temporary workers not included in the agreement objected in court to the sale, demanding they also be included, and the judge ordered the sides to present a final, agreed upon labor deal to the court by March 15.

The banquet hall overlooking Hatzor Haglilit was all ready for the celebration last evening, but Vita Pri Galil workers called off the party at the last minute.

Local politicians, celebrities and labor leaders were all invited, but the judge's decision to put off final approval for a week left employees still worried the deal might never come through.

Union head Moti Haziza, who made the decision to call off the party, said: "The week we have to wait for the court's decision will seem like a year."