Depite calls from the industry for tariffs on textile imports from the Far East, the Ministry of Industry and Trade Ministry is instead considering the introduction of a NIS10 million apparel designer fund to support the textiles sector.

The grant is one of several measures that could be established to prevent the collapse of the local textile industry and the subsequent loss of thousands of jobs.

Other ideas include temporary salary cuts for textile factory workers and the exemption of minimum wages on piecework and sewing - both of which would act as an incentive for companies to carry out their piecework in Israel. Another suggested measure is to allow factories to depreciate equipment and machinery within two years in order to improve profitability.

According to Ramzi Gabbay, chairman of the Manufacturers Association textile and fashion division, most of the alternatives suggested are impractical and cannot be implemented. 

However, Amir Peretz, chairman of The Histadrut labor federation, and Textile Workers Union director general Shalom Schindler said it is unbelievable the ministry refuses to assist the local textile industry by imposing a protective levy.

The union chiefs warned that if a levy was not imposed soon, more jobs would be lost and manufacturers would continue to transfer production overseas.