Earlier this week, William Hill’s marketing and customer support employees walked out of the company’s Tel Aviv office, sabotaging systems and servers. The 180-man-plus team refuse to return to work and the situation shows little sign of improving.
Chief Executive Ralph Topping and other senior management have been in Tel Aviv to try to squash the uprising, and finalise disciplinary action against a number of executives. Henry Birch, head of William Hill Online, and Jim Mullen, the joint venture’s Chief Operating Officer, were in Israel earlier this week to find staff had been redirected to a local beach.
According to reports, William Hill has hired former Israeli intelligence officers to regain control of the situation.
The Tel Aviv office is a key component in the William Hill Online joint venture, of which the British bookmaker owns 71%, with software provider Playtech having a 29% stake. Topping is expected to meet Playtech Chief Executive Mor Weizer in Israel on Friday.
The walkout in Tel Aviv has had a knock-on effect, as hundreds of employees in offices in Bulgaria and the Philippines also refuse to return to work. William Hill is linking the disruption to the resignation of Eyal Sanoff, the chief marketing officer in Tel Aviv, who quit on September 27.
Sanoff resigned after William Hill management demanded day-to-day access to the computer systems in Tel Aviv. After he refused to comply for months, the bookmaker gave him a September 30 ultimatum, though William Hill denies the claim.
Employees were allegedly told that William Hill planned to close the Tel Aviv operation, with Sanoff offering to re-employ them in a new business. William Hill maintains it has “no intention” of closing the Tel Aviv office.
Topping believes the situation could be resolved by the intervention of Playtech founder Teddy Sagi. Topping told The Telegraph: “If there’s one guy who could put an end to this with one phone call it’s Teddy Sagi.”
Topping, Weizer and Sanoff declined to comment.