The Histadrut Labor Federation on Thursday made good on its promise to declare a labor dispute in the south, a step that opens the possibility of a far-reaching strike there in two weeks.
The dispute, which covers unions in both public and private sector jobs, comes over an ongoing struggle with Israel Chemicals, which is laying off 140 workers in its Bromide Plant as part of an efficiency plan. The union says that an immensely profitable company should not have to fire workers. The company argues that it must take steps to pull the unprofitable plant out of the red, and says it offered generous compensation packages or early retirement deals to those it was laying off."If we allow unemployment in the south or an employment crisis or the throwing away of workers, we will lose the social face of Israel. This is the struggle," said Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn, calling on the government to use its special shares in the company to intervene. The Finance Ministry has asked to review the company's plans.