The purchase of the Maariv daily newspaper by the hawkish Makor Rishon publisher Shlomo Ben Tzvi went into effect Thursday, resulting in the layoffs of the majority of the paper’s 2,000-odd workers.
Maariv trustees handed termination notices to the entire staff; however, approximately 350 workers were informed they will keep their jobs under the new ownership. Ben Zvi, who purchased the cash-strapped paper last month, has previously said workers earning more than 22,000 shekels per month would have to take pay cuts.
Of the Maariv chain’s many magazines, sections and secondary publications, the economic supplement was discontinued. A similar fate was reportedly awaiting the sports section.
On Tuesday, Maariv workers decided to strike, refusing to print the Wednesday morning edition of the paper or update its website. However, on Wednesday, a Tel Aviv District Court injunction forced the staffers to end the wildcat strike.
Last month, the embattled employees sought to overturn the purchase in court, but Judge Varda Alshech approved the sale by Maariv Holdings Ltd. to Ben Zvi and publisher Amos Maimon, who will print the paper for five years.
According to a report on Maariv’s website in October, Ben Zvi will bring in 450-500 of Maariv’s employees, of whom 350 will be correspondents, 50-70 will be contract workers via a third-party firm, and 70-110 will work in the press.
The global newspaper crisis was exacerbated in Israel by the introduction of Israel Hayom, a free Hebrew daily financed by right-wing American-Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Israel Hayom has changed the face of the Israeli newspaper industry by offering a free alternative to the major newspapers.