Cranes are seen at the port of Haifa 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Amid ongoing negotiations with the government over port reform, the Histadrut
labor federation announced Sunday that it would declare a labor dispute at the
nation’s sea ports the following day, opening the path for a possible
Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini had been expected
to call a dispute at a press conference the previous Sunday, but cancelled at
the last minute to enter negotiations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Earlier in July, alongside Finance Minister Yair Lapid and
Transportation Minister Israel Katz, Netanyahu released tenders to build two
private ports in Ashdod and Haifa that would compete with the bloated state-run
ports in those cities. At the time, Netanyahu had strong words for the labor
unions, promising that any efforts to block reforms in the nation’s ports would
“I am telling my friends in the Histadrut and the large
workers’ committees that it’s over. No longer will 2,000 people strangle the
economy, paralyze the country and prevent us from advancing toward the future
that awaits us,” Netanyahu said at the time.
Declaring a labor dispute
allows the Histadrut to call a strike after two weeks.
announced his intention to release the tenders, he laid out a detailed plan to
subvert a possible strike, including the possibility of bringing in foreign
companies to run the ports.
Because goods and services equivalent to some
60 percent of the nation’s GDP travels through the ports, according to Economy
Ministry Naftali Bennett, a strike could have serious repercussions for the
“Nothing influences the cost of living as strongly as the flow
of products and raw materials and our export goods that go out through Israel’s
seaports,” Netanyahu said at the initial announcement.