Hundreds of workers could be left jobless in March when an American firm closes its factory in Lod.
On Tuesday, some 50 workers picketed the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv to protest the decision to close down the facility, which produces parts for the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
The U.S.-based Sanmina SCI firm is closing the factory, however, which is on the brink of bankruptcy. Scheduled for shutdown in March, the loss could leave 400 workers jobless for some time in the present economy.
Chanting slogans such as “Today national security was compromised” and “The country is in danger,” the workers walked the picket line. Some held signs that reminded, “The last war proved Iron Dome saves lives.”
Factory workers union chief Morris Mansour said he was considering filing a labor dispute with the court, and might shut down factory operations over the issue. “No worker or manager will be allowed to enter the building and no parts, material or products will be allowed to leave it,” if the decision is taken to go ahead with the shutdown, Mansour threatened.
“We feel used. Now that the war is over they want to get rid of us,” said a worker. “The Iron Dome worked like a soldier during Operation Pillar of Defense, and that's what protected us.”
Middle management employee Zamira Achdut told the Hebrew-language daily Yediot Acharonot that the Defense Ministry had allowed “foreign management to make critical decisions for Israel, and that is very dangerous.”
In response, the Defense Ministry expressed sympathy for those who would lose their jobs, but said “in this case, the company's American management decided to shut down their Israeli branch for reasons known only to them. We cannot help those who do not want our help.” Sanmina's management never informed the ministry of its decisions, nor had it requested its assistance, the ministry added.
Iron Dome contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems noted that the American firm is only one supplier out of many that were involved in the project. “The decision will have no impact on production schedules or on Israel's supply of Iron Dome systems,” Rafael said in a statement.
However, just last month Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani visited the Elta factory in Ashdod to thank the workers there for their intense efforts. He also paid a similar visit to employees of the Rafael Weapons-Development Authority, Ampersat and the Research and Development Branch of the Defense Ministry for their successful production of the radar component of the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
Shani asked the various industrial groups to speed up production of additional units to the five Iron Dome batteries already in place, including the one that went into service the day before Operation Pillar of Defense, two months ahead of schedule.