Blade Technology workers at a protest meeting organized by the Histadrut (photo: Histadrut spokespeople)
It has been a month and a half that the employees of the Blade Technology factory in Nahariya have been trying to gather all possible help to save their livelihood, since the owner of the blade factory, the American jet engine giant Pratt & Whitney, announced its intention to close it and lay off more than 900 of its 1400 employees in Israel, in a process that will begin in 2024 and end in 2025.
The Histadrut worked to bring in four companies and funds that expressed interest in purchasing the factory, but nothing has progressed since then.
On the face of it, it seems that "Pratt & Whitney" are determined to close the factory and are not interested in selling it and its technology in order to avoid competition.
the chairman of the employees' committee of "Lehabim Technology", Farid Said
an emotional appeal for assistance to
the incoming Minister of Economy, Nir Barkat :
"Sir, please help us and study the case as soon as possible. The matter is more important to the many families who lost their lives and ask for your immediate intervention."
Vala learned that Barakat intends to get into the thick of things and make an effort to find the best and fastest solution as possible.
The Minister of Economy is examining several alternatives that could come into consideration, the first of which is an attempt to talk to the owners of the factory and convince them to sell it, with the ideal solution being to sell the factory as it is, to a private company or a state-owned defense company.
Another possible alternative, and more complicated because of the difficult employment problem in the Galilee, is the absorption of manpower in factories with a similar orientation, or finding alternative jobs for each and every one of the workers, when the intention is to operate in all these fields at the same time.
Minister of Economy, Nir Barkat.
intends to handle the blade technology crisis as he did at the Teva plant, as mayor of Jerusalem (photo: Reuven Castro)
Nature precedent and gratitude
During his tenure as mayor of Jerusalem, Barkat dealt with a similar crisis and with the same strategy, the issue of the closure of the two "Teva" factories in Mount Hotsavim, which was part of a horizontal streamlining process led in 2017 by the company's CEO at the time, Carr Schultz. When Teva announced its intention to lay off 700 of the factory's employees In Jerusalem, severe protests erupted and allegations were made against the company, Barkat, and the person who served as finance minister at the time, Moshe Kahlon.
Barkat made efforts to find a buyer for the factory and at the same time, together with the national seclusion that represented the workers, worked for immediate employment alternatives, in which the fired would be absorbed. Within two years, most of the workers were absorbed In Rafael and Israel Railways, the factories were closed and put up for sale.
The Levinstein holding company was supposed to purchase the tablet factory, which was one of the symbols of Har Hotsavim, for NIS 171 million and recently withdrew from the agreement and it returned to Teva.
"Teva is a Jerusalem flag," Mayor Barkat said at the time, "I expect from the company gratitude to Jerusalem and the State of Israel for all the assistance they have received. Even in the future they will ask for the assistance of the Knesset and the government and they must take into account that it is two-way. We demand a currency to do everything to preserve on the workers. This is possible by upgrading their factories to the next generation, just as Intel and other companies have done. It would not be right for the State of Israel to break Teva, we need to help them get out of the crisis. In every situation we will continue to stand up for the workers."
Will he take a similar course of action for blade technology workers as well?
It is possible, but it should be mentioned again that so far it is evident from the actions of Pratt & Whitney that the company is not interested in maintaining production at the factory, even if it is profitable, and also that in the case of layoffs, as mentioned, in the north of the country it is more difficult to find employment alternatives.
And in general, if we're talking about gratitude, maybe it's time to put pressure on the Ministry of Defense, one of the largest customers of the American factory, so that it works with the American manufacturer so that it "recognizes the favor" of its generous customer - and finds a solution to the plight of the workers.
Ministry of Economy