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National labor court freezes dismissals at ECI Telecom

On Monday a district court nixed a petition to stop ECI from cutting staff

Management and labor representatives at

ECI Telecom

(Nasdaq:ECIL) aren't done jousting through the courts.

Today the National Labor Court in Jerusalem issued a temporary order to stop the company from trimming staff, after workers appealed a decision on Monday by a lower district labor court, permitting ECI to proceed with its dismissals.

On Monday, February 5, Judge Meir Nachtomy of the Tel Aviv Labor Court refused to issue an injunction preventing dismissals at the company.

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On January 17, Tel Aviv District Labor Court Judge Meir Nachtomy froze letters of dismissal for two weeks, at the request of the workers, until today. Ostensibly ECI would be freed to serve the letters today.

But the workers appealed to the National Labor Court, claiming management was not handling the dismissal negotiations in good faith. The workers claimed that ECI was targeting mainly unionized workers, who comprise about 700 to 800 out of a workforce of 4,500 people. The workers further claim that ECI plans to hire temps to replace them.

At six o'clock this morning, ECI sent couriers to the homes of workers it wants to fire, before receiving the temporary freeze order from the national court.

Labor representative Haim Ben-Shlush conceded that under the ruling from January 17, ECI was free to commence delivering the letters of dismissal. But, he said, he failed to understand the terrific urgency that led the company to pester workers at their homes at the crack of dawn.

The labor representatives could not say how many workers received letters at home this morning, but they said it was more than a few.