Court allows Port tender freeze to lapse

Private companies will be able to submit applications starting on Monday for the building of ports in Ashdod and Haifa.

September 1, 2013 18:21
1 minute read.
Ashdod Port.

Ashdod port 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Tenders for private companies to build new seaports to compete with existing ones in Ashdod and Haifa will go back on the market Monday after the National Labor Court failed to renew a one-month freeze.

The court had ordered both that the tenders be frozen and that any strikes over the port reforms be postponed while the government negotiated with the Histadrut labor federation over the port reforms. On Tuesday, the court is set to meet again to determine the progress of the negotiations and the legality of a union strike.

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Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce president Uriel Lynn praised the court’s decision to allow the tenders to move forward.

“The decision marks an important turning point in stance of the court,” he said. “Developing economic infrastructure cannot be stopped because of the interests of a narrow group of employees.”

“Hopefully the pace of implementing the creation of new docks will not stop or be obstructed because of future decisions of the Labor Court, because there is enormous importance in developing the infrastructure of the seaports of Israel, where a large part of the economy relies on foreign trade,” Lynn said.

The Histadrut has argued that the state backtracked on prior negotiations that would maintain work conditions for the port employees, and it has since accused the government of stalling and negotiating in bad faith.

“The ones who determine the prices at the ports are the government, and I call on the government not to wait seven years and pass the time, but bring down the prices of the ports – they have enough profit,” Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini said Thursday at a conference in Tel Aviv sponsored by Calcalist.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Finance Ministry and the Transportation Ministry first put the tenders up for bidding in July, vowing that they would not allow the Histadrut to halt the creation of new, competitive ports. The port reforms are one of a series of economic shakeups, such as the open skies agreement, intended to help lower consumer prices and the cost of living.

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