The High Court of Justice on Thursday rejected a petition by the state against
two private ports, upholding a National Labor Court decision to temporarily
suspend their tenders.
Earlier in the month, the court had ruled that the
tenders should be suspended while the state negotiated with the Histadrut labor
federation, though it denied the union the right to strike until at least
September 2, when it would evaluate their progress.
The High Court said
that it would evaluate the situation at that date.
Building private port
tenders is part of a government plan to reform the ports by introducing
competition, though the labor federation maintains that such reforms will
materially harm the port workers.
The state worried that pulling major
public tenders would dissuade companies from spending resources on applying for
them, ultimately damaging Israel’s economy.
Labor federation lawyer Shai
Taken welcomed the decision, saying the state had no justification in trying to
upend the labor court, calling the appeal out of place.
“We hope that at
this stage the state will respect and act according to the court’s decision and
conduct real negotiations in an attempt to solve the differences, as it should
have done in the first place,” Taken said.
In a joint statement, the
Finance and Transportation ministries said they will continue to promote the
establishment of private ports to boost competition, “which will reduce the cost
of living and develop Israel’s international trade.”
According to Globes,
the National Labor Court criticized the state for acting in “bad faith,” and
said that its reform efforts had undermined a draft agreement reached with the
Histadrut over the Ashdod Port workers six months earlier. The agreement would
have promised to protect the seaport’s financial stability and its workers
conditions through reforms.
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