By RON FRIEDMAN
A Haifa Labor Court judge managed to avert a continued strike in the Haifa Port on Wednesday night, after the port’s workers spent the day on strike in protest against the port’s board of directors’ decision to approve a draft prospectus for the sale of 15 percent of the company to the public on the stock market.The workers said the board’s decision violated previous agreements with them.The workers barricaded themselves inside the port and halted all work on the docks after finding out that the board of directors approved the draft at 4 a.m. on Wednesday after a debate that lasted nearly 17 hours.The workers union said management had promised that they wouldn’t approve the prospectus, which was drawn up by the Ministry of Finance, without the agreement of the workers. Among the contested issues were employee pensions, the establishment of private docks, which the workers are against, the worker’s shares of ownership of the docks, and future contracts between the port and the workers.The port management called the strike “wild and unapproved,” and said they were doing all they could to resume operations as normal.Throughout the day, the two sides tried to reach an agreement throughthe liaison of the Histadrut labor federation, but talks broke down. Inthe end the judge ordered the workers back to work and instructed bothsides to enter intensive negotiations and reach an agreement on theprospectus.The two sides will face the courts again in 10 days for a progress report.Earlier, Manufacturers Association chairman Shraga Brosh said that incase the court ordered the workers to return to work and they refused,the Manufacturers Association would be forced to sue the “ringleaders”personally.“The exporters and importers cannot suffer financial losses as a resultof the port’s faulty operations, which cost the Israeli economymillions of shekels,” Brosh said.
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