Histadrut, ICL negotiations fall apart

Talks between Israel Chemicals Ltd. and Histadrut labor federation, attempting to stave off a general strike in the South and a wave of planned layoffs, break down after one day.

March 4, 2015 22:15
1 minute read.
Israel Chemicals

THE DEAD SEA WORKS in Sdom, the world’s fourth largest producer and supplier of potash products, is owned by Israel Chemicals Ltd. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Negotiations between Israel Chemicals Ltd. and the Histadrut labor federation, attempting to stave off a general strike in the South and a wave of planned layoffs, broke down on Wednesday after just one day.

The Histadrut blamed ICL for refusing to backtrack on its plans to fire 140 workers from its Bromine Compounds plant in Ne’ot Hovav (formerly called Ramat Hovav), which the company says is unprofitable. The layoffs go into effect on Sunday.

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For its part, the company management said it was not aware that talks were over until it heard about it in the media.

“The unions entered the negotiations as part of a game of deceptions, and they left it once the show was over,” the company said.

The decision, the company warned, is detrimental to all the company’s employees who are spending their days striking instead of getting paid.

ICL said it offered generous compensation or an early retirement package to those getting laid off, but warned that failure to reform the plants would lead to their closures, which would leave far more people without work.

The Histadrut once again turned to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is acting finance minister, to ask him to use the state’s “golden shares” in the company to strike the agreement. Israel holds shares with special voting rights, but the company argues they are not relevant for the issue at hand.

Last week, after staging massive protests and blocking traffic in several southern cities, the Histadrut declared a general labor dispute in the South. Legally, that will allow it to put the entire region on a general strike starting on Thursday, March 12.

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