The Histadrut Labor Federation on Tuesday threatened to declare a general labor dispute in the South if a solution is not found to the issue of layoffs at Israel Chemicals plant.
The dispute would open the legal door to a general strike in the South within two weeks.
The Histadrut has been ramping up pressure on Israel Chemicals, one of Israel's largest publicly traded companies, over its intention to lay off 140 workers from Israel's Bromide plant and another 135 at the Dead Sea Works. It has started to make good on its threats to "shut down the South," holding demonstrations in Arad, Dimona and Beersheba this week.
Israel Chemicals says the layoffs are a necessary step to ensure profitability at loss-making plants such as the Bromides plant, and says it has offered the fired workers over 55 comfortable early retirement packages and the remainder severances that go well beyond the legal limit.
The Histadrut insists that a company making NIS 3 billion in profit can find ways to keep a few hundred employees on the books.