(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Some 850 workers at the Israel Chemicals-owned Bromine Compounds factory went on strike Monday in protest of planned firings.
Israel Chemicals (ICL) sent letters for dismissal hearings to some 140 workers Monday, part of a planned restructuring of the company that will lay off hundreds of Israeli workers even as it grows its operation abroad. On Sunday it inaugurated its 300-person European headquarters in Amsterdam.
The Histadrut labor federation, which led the strike, said that the company’s management had stonewalled in the last six months of negotiations, refusing to compromise on a plan that would see 70 workers retire early.
“We see this is aggressive behavior, folding their arms before the union and Histadrut,” said Histadrut Negev regional chairman Meir Babioff. “The workers will fight the decision and intend to shutter the entire company and all of its offices until the cancellation of this order.”
The protesters refused to work at the Naot Hovav plant or the Beersheba offices.
ICL shot back that the plant is inefficient and uncompetitive in the international market, and needs to be streamlined “responsibly” in order to save the majority of the jobs there.
Faced with both business challenges and government regulation, a company official said, there is no other option.
“Unfortunately, the union is ignoring the difficult situation and exploded the dialogue with management last week, demanding continued employment with wages that are at the highest levels in the world,” the company said. Some employees, the company argued, received an unsustainable salary of NIS 1 million a year. Without adjustments, the factory would have no economic justification and would ultimately have to be closed. ICL said employees who completed their work there would be given a good compensation package. It urged the employees to return to work.