A court ordered Ma'ariv workers end their str
A court ordered Ma'ariv workers end their str Reuters

An Israeli court ordered employees of the daily newspaper Ma'ariv to end their strike and return to work Wednesday afternoon.

Judge Varda Alshech criticized the conduct of the employees, questioning their logic to strike during the period that the paper is in financial trouble and is making continuing efforts to settle with investors and collectors. "It is inconceivable for workers to conduct negotiations through force, by causing damage that will negatively affect them as well."

Employees called for the strike Tuesday and announced that the daily would be absent from news stands Wednesday and that the website would not be up and running.

Hagai Matar, Maariv branch journalists' union chairman, told AFP that the strike was because of new owner Shlomo Ben-Zvi's failure to implement an agreement on wages and conditions and was motivated by continuing uncertainty over how many staff would keep their jobs.

"Maariv's employees want to know how many of them will be hired and what the newspaper's structure will be," employees said in a statement Tuesday.

"Tomorrow we're supposed to get dismissal letters," said photgrpaher Yossi Aloni, adding that it was not known how many or which staff would lose their jobs. "Nothing is clear to us," he said.

The strike marked the first time the newspaper did not come out since it was founded in 1948.

"I can't remember a day without Maariv, there has never been such a thing," Tkuma Carlebach, daughter of the paper's founder, told Israel Radio.

Unions fear that about 1,600 of Maariv's 2,000 employees will lose their jobs under the new ownership.

Prior to the sale agreement, journalists had threatened to strike over the deal, with many also concerned about the future of its editorial line after its sale to Ben-Zvi, who is close to Israel's nationalist, religious right.

They feared that the newspaper, originally right-wing but currently considered centre-left and sharply critical of Binyamin Netanyahu's government, could become increasingly conservative under Ben-Zvi's ownership. In

Former Foreign and Defense Minister Moshe Arens, in a 2012 Haaretz article, wrote that the owner of Ma'ariv decided to move the newspaper leftward several years ago, "forsaking the right-wing readership that was loyal to it for years."