The Ashdod Port union on Tuesday morning halted shipping activity in light of the numerous rocket firings from Gaza, closing one of Israel’s main gates of trade, without the approval of the port company, port authority or Transportation Ministry.
The National Labor Court ordered the workers to resume their posts in the afternoon.
The union said some workers were nervous that they did not have a place to seek shelter during red alerts.
“There were workers who found themselves on the high cranes, without any possibility of protection around them, and in order to avoid unnecessary disasters we instructed the workers to stop their work and stay near protected areas,” said acting Ashdod union chief Avinoam Shoshan.
Transportation Minister Israel Katz, however, said the decision had not been taken through the proper channels, and sent instructions to get the port running again and suspend Shoshan for pulling the workers during a state of emergency.
“It is scandalous conduct that the chairman of the union took an illegal decision on his own initiative,” a statement from the ministry said.
Katz said that good protection was in place for the workers. The port company said that halting activity would cost it NIS 3 million-NIS 5m. a day.
The Histadrut labor federation blasted the port company for suspending Shoshan “during this difficult time,” but agreed that the workers should return to their posts “under safety restrictions.”
Meanwhile, despite reports in the business newspaper Calcalist that coal shipments to the Ashkelon Rutenberg Power Station had stopped due to the security situation, an Israel Electric Corporation spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post that the report was “erroneous.”
All work was proceeding as normal at the IEC, the spokeswoman stressed.