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Israel Postal service to strike Monday
By NIV ELIS
09/03/2014
Israel Chemical workers strike, blocking 3000 contract workers; National Labor Court considers port strike.
 
Israel’s postal service is set to hold a general strike on Monday over a planned restructuring, as workers initiate protests outside the company’s administrative offices in Tel Aviv.

The union is upset over a restructuring plan that will lay off dozens of workers.

“We’re talking about the management that has brought the postal service to a precipice,” said postal union chairman Shimon Farjun. “The management is in a panic and trying to save its skin with severe cuts at the expense of the workers.”

While he was prepared to move forward with some sort of restructuring, he said, the situation called for intervention from the Finance and Economy Ministries.

The postal service was just one of several fronts in the ongoing labor wars in Israel.

On Sunday, Israel Chemicals workers’ union staged a oneday “warning strike,” blocking some 3,000 contract workers from going to work in protest over stalled negotiations regarding layoffs.

“If management continues to ignore its workers and take unilateral steps, such as layoffs, we will escalate the struggle and the sanctions until a full strike on the factories,” said Avner Ben-Senor, chairman of the bromine workers union. “The union will not play a part in the firing of hundreds of workers and the collapse of thousands of families in the Negev.”

The union claimed that it had appealed several times to ICL CEO Stefan Borgas, only to be rebuffed with “laconic and condescending” answers, leading it to take more aggressive measures in order to force management to meet with them over the company’s “ICL 1” streamlining program, which it says will cut 400-600 jobs.

A representative of ICL said that the unions canceled a meeting scheduled for Sunday, opting instead for a strike, even against the wishes of some of the workers forced to strike for the day. Cutting workers, it said, was an unfortunate necessity for a business facing hard times.

“ICL is dealing with a problematic and urgent reality stemming from the crisis in the markets it is active in, from the decline of the competitiveness of Israeli factories and the edicts the Israeli government has cast on it,” the spokesman said.

The company blamed the unions for failing to take its economic predicament into account, saying that the strike raised questions on their desire to participate in a serious dialogue.

On a third front, the National Labor Court met on Sunday to once again discuss the possibility of a labor strike at the ports.

For nearly a year, the port unions have been threatening to strike in protest of port reforms, which will lead to the building of private ports in Haifa and Ashdod to compete with the existing ports.

“Anyone who accepts work at one of the sea ports must know that the right to strike in Israel is a limited right,” said Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce Uriel Lynn at the hearing, arguing that the workers benefit from a state-sanctioned monopoly at the expense of the general health of the economy.
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