Ashdod port workers went on strike on Sunday night in reaction to the Finance Ministry's insistence on making changes in an agreement in the works between port workers and the Ashdod Port Authority. The cost per day of the strike is estimated at anywhere from NIS 15 million up to NIS 50m. and according to the Israel Manufacturers Association, more than $35m. worth of products are currently stuck at the port. The port workers and the Ashdod Port Authority had almost reached an agreement in the negotiations that they had been conducting for the last three weeks over numerous issues, including employee mobilization, when the Treasury informed the sides that the settlement was not going to be approved by the government. In response, the workers walked out at 10:30 on Sunday night. Manufacturers Association President Shraga Brosh met on Monday morning with Finance Minister Hirchson and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz in the hopes of bringing a quick end to the strike. In 2005, Israel's ports were converted from a monolithic state-owned entity to individual public-sector companies. Ashdod's port workers received salary increases and additional benefits including stock options as part of the reforms in return for agreeing to a period of "industrial quiet" for at least five years. Additionally, the port management agreed that any future negotiations could not be completed without Finance Ministry approval. Uriel Lynn, the President of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, said the port workers are acting selfishly, without concern for the damage they are doing to the Israeli economy and the general public. "They are striking because they want more money and benefits," Lynn said, "it's not like they are not getting paid - they are acting in an aggressive manner and it is up to the Histadrut to put an end to the strike." Lynn also noted that there are goods and supplies, including valuable foodstuffs, sitting in containers in the port, and if they are not unloaded soon they will be ruined. The port management was required by law to enter into negotiations with the workers after they filed grievances with the Histadrut complaining of poor work conditions at the ports and have been in talks with the workers for the last three weeks. Companies Authority director-general Eyal Gabai, and Finance Ministry Wage Director Eli Cohen informed the Ashdod port management that the agreement they were hoping to sign with the port workers included unacceptable details that placed too much control in the hands of the workers, such as allowing the workers to control the awarding of outsourcing contracts as well as making the port workers committee responsible for handling employee discipline. The port workers engaged in a similar strike in early February.