Labor Court Freezes Mass Layoffs at Negev Ceramics Plant in South

The Regional Labor Court in Beersheba ordered on Sunday, October 15, Negev Ceramics to postpone all layoffs at its plant in the southern town of Yeroham until the end of the month, a temporary reprieve for the 140 workers who are expected to lose their jobs.

With the decision by Judge Shmuel Tenenbaum, all parties, including the Histradut Labor Federation, the local workers’ committee and the management of Negev Ceramics are to undertake intensive negotiations until October 30. In the meantime, employees will be considered to have reported for work on a daily basis, even though the factory will remain shuttered.

Security guards prevent employees from entering the Negev Ceramics plant

Security guards prevent employees from entering the Negev Ceramics plant (Photo: Hanna Briga)

Workers heading for their shifts at the Negev Ceramics factory in Yeroham last Friday, October 13, were locked out by security guards and received a typed letter that the plant would be shutting down and its some 130 workers laid off.

Negev Ceramics workers’ committee chairman Yakov Tzarfati said, “There’s a bad feeling. We are all surprised at our management. The workers are angry and frustrated. These people have nowhere to go and no power. They are only a few years before the age of retirement. There are signed agreements, and we hope a solution will be found.”

The mayor of Yeroham, Michael Biton, rushed to meet with the locked-out workers and management on Friday in an attempt to forestall the layoffs, while the Histadrut Labor Federation petitioned the Beersheba Labor Court for an emergency injunction against the firings. Negev Ceramics employs 700 people at 10 store branches and offices across the country, with 85% of its sales coming from imported products. Long-time workers bemoaned the decision to close the plant in Yeroham, which will leave dozens of families without breadwinners in both that impoverished town as well as in neighboring Dimona.