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
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
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
“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.