Worried officials from the Israel Textile Association have warned that rising wages and higher manufacturing costs could lead to 50 per cent of the industry's workers losing their jobs in the next couple of years.

The association claims that since 1994, 9,000 Galilee-based textile and fashion industry workers have been laid off and has now called on the government to subsidise these costs in the country's unemployment hubs.

A spokesman said this would halt the wave of layoffs and even lead to new jobs for hundreds of workers and that the industry should be accorded a preferred status, similar to that of the construction industry.