Braverman slams Bennett's talk about port workers

Knesset Economics Committee visits Ashdod Port, where workers say they are willing to negotiate terms.

June 6, 2013 19:13
1 minute read.
LABOR MK Avishai Braverman looks at a model of a crane during a visit to the Ashdod Port.

LABOR MK Avishai Braverman looks at a model of a crane 370. (photo credit: Knesset)

The need for competition in the market does not contradict keeping organized labor alive, Knesset Economics Committee chairman Avishai Braverman said Thursday on a committee visit to Ashdod Port.

“It’s inappropriate to speak out against workers and use expressions like ‘ants,’” the Labor MK said, referring to a pun Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett made on the similar Hebrew words for “ants” and “ports.”

Two weeks ago, the Bayit Yehudi leader wrote on Facebook that “the ants are impossible…Something had to be done. I called in the exterminator.” He has also said he would send soldiers to work in the ports in the event of a strike.

Braverman and MKs Omer Bar-Lev (Labor), Michal Roisin (Meretz), Ariel Attias (Shas) and David Tsur (Hatnua) toured Ashdod Port with its chairman Gideon Sitterman and director-general Shuki Sagis.

The committee also met with chairmen of subcommittees of the port workers unions, who said their image was harmed by Bennett’s use of expressions like “extermination.”

They said they would be willing to negotiate via Histadurut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini.

“The demonization of the port workers is unfortunate, but the Histadrut takes advantage of them without concern for the weakest workers in the market,” Roisin said.

Sitterman said he supports increasing competition as long as it is fair and with equal opportunities, and that the port’s board of directors is prepared for whatever decision the government makes.

He also pointed out that Ashdod Port already competes with Haifa Port. Sagis explained that there are ports abroad in which there is competition between the different platforms, but the workers are all members of the same union, so that there is competition between the managers without harming workers.

In response to a question from Attias, Sagis said the port only adds 0.5 percent to the price of an imported product. For example, 2.5 agorot are added to each kilogram of sugar.

At the end of the tour, Braverman said he plans to invite Bennett and the representatives of the port and its workers to an Economics Committee meeting.

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