ICL, Histadrut return to negotiations amid strikes

Histadrut says a company that makes billions of shekels in profits can afford to keep more workers employed.

March 3, 2015 20:03
1 minute read.
tents tel aviv

Activists stand near tents on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv March 1, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israel Chemicals and the Histadrut returned to the negotiating table Tuesday morning to discuss the fate of 140 workers whom the company plans to lay off from its Bromide Compounds plant.

The return to negotiations – which occurred after the intervention of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom – comes amid threats of a general strike in the South, which the Histadrut could legally impose as of next Thursday following its announcement of a labor dispute in that region.

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Since last Sunday, the Histadrut has been making good on its threat to “shut down the South,” first at the plants in question and then by shutting down local governments and major transportation arteries in cities such as Arad, Dimona and Beersheba.

The negotiations will not automatically end these strikes, nor will ICL retract its letters of dismissal as prerequisites to the talks, which will include both ICL CEO Stefan Borgas and Histadrut chairman Avi Nissankorn.

ICL has argued that it already put a generous offer on the table for the 140 workers, whom it says it must let go since the plant has been losing vast sums of money. Workers over the age of 55 would get a monthly compensation of NIS 15,000-NIS 19,000 until their retirement age, with an additional increase in retirement benefits once they reach that age.

Those under 55 would be offered double the legally mandated compensation benefits.

The Histadrut, however, argues that a company that makes billions of shekels in profits can afford to keep more workers employed.

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