Ashdod port 370.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Tenders for private companies to build new seaports to compete with existing
ones in Ashdod and Haifa will go back on the market Monday after the National
Labor Court failed to renew a one-month freeze.
The court had ordered
both that the tenders be frozen and that any strikes over the port reforms be
postponed while the government negotiated with the Histadrut labor federation
over the port reforms. On Tuesday, the court is set to meet again to determine
the progress of the negotiations and the legality of a union
Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce president Uriel Lynn
praised the court’s decision to allow the tenders to move forward.
decision marks an important turning point in stance of the court,” he said.
“Developing economic infrastructure cannot be stopped because of the interests
of a narrow group of employees.”
“Hopefully the pace of implementing the
creation of new docks will not stop or be obstructed because of future decisions
of the Labor Court, because there is enormous importance in developing the
infrastructure of the seaports of Israel, where a large part of the economy
relies on foreign trade,” Lynn said.
The Histadrut has argued that the
state backtracked on prior negotiations that would maintain work conditions for
the port employees, and it has since accused the government of stalling and
negotiating in bad faith.
“The ones who determine the prices at the ports
are the government, and I call on the government not to wait seven years and
pass the time, but bring down the prices of the ports – they have enough
profit,” Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini said Thursday at a conference in Tel Aviv
sponsored by Calcalist.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Finance
Ministry and the Transportation Ministry first put the tenders up for bidding in
July, vowing that they would not allow the Histadrut to halt the creation of
new, competitive ports. The port reforms are one of a series of economic
shakeups, such as the open skies agreement, intended to help lower consumer
prices and the cost of living.