Cranes are seen at the port of Haifa 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
The National Labor Court is expected to announce its decision in the next few
days on whether the Histadrut labor federation may strike over port reforms,
after postponing a decision on the matter in a hearing on Tuesday.
Israel Manufacturers Association, which joined the government’s petition prior
to the hearing, said that the business sector could see NIS 340 million in
losses from one week of striking, with damages getting worse over
“Just by the fourth day, the daily financial damage is expected to
reach NIS 70m.,” the group said.
“The sea port services are an integral
part of the competitiveness, reliability and reputation of the Israeli economy,”
the IMA’s attorney Ofer Yohananof wrote in the request submitted to the court.
“In these circumstances, a general strike by the port workers will gradually
disrupt the country’s economic activity as well.”
A strike, he continued,
would cause severe and partly irreversible economic damage.
For its part,
the labor federation submitted an interim study analyzing the effect new ports
would have on workers to the court ahead of the hearing, arguing that reforms
that brought down prices would “necessarily cause serious harm to the salaries
of all the workers at the ports and will endanger their jobs.”
of building private ports centers around the idea that introducing competition
to the existing ports would bring down prices.
In its late-night ruling,
the court expressed displeasure at protesting port union workers who disrupted
Alongside Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Transportation
Minister Israel Katz, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu released tenders to
build private ports in Ashdod and Haifa in July. At the time, the prime minister
promised that any efforts to block reforms in the nation’s ports would be
“I am telling my friends in the Histadrut and the large workers
committees that it’s over. No longer will 2,000 people strangle the economy,
paralyze the country and prevent us from advancing toward the future that awaits
us,” Netanyahu said.
When the labor federation seemed intent on going on
strike over the matter in July, the court intervened, freezing the tenders and
ruling out a strike for a month while the two sides negotiate.
the court allowed the freeze on the tenders to lapse.
originally announced his intention to release the tenders, he laid out a
detailed plan to subvert a possible strike, including the possibility of
bringing in foreign companies to run the ports.