Ashdod Port head suspends self amid scandal

According to Channel 2, port union chairman accumulated wealth through series of shady dealings, and violation of laws.

June 16, 2013 14:21
2 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)

Alon Hasson, chairman of the Ashdod Port Union, suspended himself from the position on Sunday following a Channel 2 report alleging corrupt dealings.

Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini accepted the decision, saying that the Histadrut would continue to stand with the port workers in expected future negotiations.

Eini said it was his intention to make changes in the Histadrut’s constitution that would make it impossible for a union member to possess private businesses with commercial links to the workplace.

The Channel 2 report on Friday alleged that Hassan had become a wealthy man by conducting business from the port with companies in which he had an interest, despite rules blocking such dealings.

The report cited small shipping company Benny Dan Movers and Shahar-Hops, a cleaning supplies company, both owned by Hasson as examples of companies connected to him that had benefited from lucrative contracts with the port. His friends and family were said to have also benefited from Hasson’s position, receiving preference in business deals with the port.

Following the uproar, the Finance Ministry’s Government Companies Authority said that a week earlier it had sent an urgent report to the attorney-general to check into Hasson’s private business ties, and said that the port had appointed an external auditor at its request. The Justice Department’s Auditor’s Council is to take up the issue on Tuesday.

Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev expressed surprise that the criticism and action had been directed solely at Hasson while ignoring the entirety of the port’s management, its supervisors, the Transportation Ministry and the State Comptroller.

“Those responsible for what is going on are the senior management at the port and the Transportation Ministry,” he said. “It’s also a shame that the message to the public is that workers’ unions are corrupt and need to be privatized.”

Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett have continuously cited reforming the Ashdod Port as a central goal in their economic agenda. In July, Transportation Minister Israel Katz is set to publish two tenders for building a new private port to compete with those in Ashdod and Haifa.

“I decided to end the situation in which militant unions take advantage of the power in their hands and get privileges at the expense of the general public,” Katz wrote in a note on his Facebook page when he made the announcement in May.

He set out a series of plans to subvert possible strikes by the port unions, vowing that they would not have a “veto” on the plans.

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