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
“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.
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
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