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Intel offers non-Jewish Saturday workforce in Israel plant row

Compromise plan after ultra-Orthodox protest

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Intel has offered to field an entirely non-Jewish Saturday workforce at its Jerusalem chip plant, after unruly demonstrations by ultra-Orthodox Jews there at the weekend.

The protest by ultra-Orthodox Jews, enraged by the company running the plant on the Jewish sabbath, prompted Intel to surround the factory with barbed wire. Journalists covering the demonstration were reportedly attacked.

According to Haaretz, Intel has now offered to only employ non-Jews at the plant on Saturdays. A total of 60 employees will work there, in three shifts, and "only conveyers producing the most sensitive components will operate on Saturday."

The paper adds that Intel will bear the cost of training the new non-Jewish workers, and would also recruit workers from the ultra-Orthodox community.

The proposal was made at a meeting chaired by the speaker of the Knesset, and ultra-Orthodox rabbis are expected to deliver a response soon.

The running of the plant on Saturdays has sparked high emotions. The ultra Orthodox community has an issue with the plant running on the Jewish day of rest. Non-Orthodox Jews argue that Intel could simply up sticks and move elsewhere, leaving Jerusalem ever more dependent on government, academic and tourism jobs. ®

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