Industry, commerce ask court to reinstate work at ports

The Israel Manufacturers' Association and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce have joined forces to stop labor irregularities at Israel's ports.

Haifa Port 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Haifa Port 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Israel Manufacturers' Association and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce have joined forces to stop labor irregularities at Israel's ports which have already cost the business sector NIS 1.2 billion. On Monday, the two organizations submitted a request to the National Labor Court against the Histadrut Labor Federation and the government to enforce an injunction and order the ports' workers to return back to work at full capacity. Since Monday last week, Ashdod and Haifa port workers launched labor sanctions including reduced workdays and slowdowns to protest a clause in the 2009 Economic Arrangements Bill passed by the cabinet last month. That clause would allow the Israel Ports Company to manage operations at the ports, rather than simply acting as Israel's port-property landlord, overseeing the government's assets. The Histadrut Labor Federation on Tuesday declared a labor dispute at all of Israel's ports in reaction to the Treasury's plan to bring in private contractors for the operation of parts of the ports. The Histadrut believes that allowing independent contractors to run the ports will damage the status of unionized labor there. Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini has accused the Finance Ministry of acting against collective agreements by unilaterally legislating the change. In declaring a work dispute at the ports of Haifa, Eilat and Ashdod, the Histadrut and the workers are legally entitled to launch a general strike at the ports starting next week. The IMA and the FICC also asked the National Labor Court to give an order to the respective government ministries to immediately start negotiations with the Histadrut Labor Federation to find a solution to the dispute and end the crisis at the ports.