Court to discuss request to halt port strike

Histadrut launches open-ended strike in Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat ports over pension funds; Manufactures Association urges court to issue injunction against strike.

Haifa port 521 (photo credit: LIAT COLLINS)
Haifa port 521
(photo credit: LIAT COLLINS)
At noon on Sunday, National Labor Court President Judge Nili Arad ordered representatives from the Histadrut, the state, the Manufacturers Assocation and the Haifa Port Company to attend a hearing in her chambers at the National Labor Court  at 6 p.m. Sunday in order to discuss the matter of the port strike.
Israel's major sea ports shut down Sunday morning as workers launched an open-ended strike. Workers and the Histadrut called the strike late Saturday night after negotiations with the Finance Ministry failed to bring a resolution to workers' complaints about the management of their pension funds.
The ports of Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat all stopped operating at 6 a.m.
The Manufacturers Association of Israel and the Haifa Port Company filed an urgent request to the court on Sunday morning for injunctions to halt the port strikes.
Arad ordered the Histadrut and the state to file written responses to the court by 4 p.m. Sunday regarding the Manufacturers Association's request for injunctions.
The Manufacturers Assocation and the Haifa Port Company told the court that the call to strike was illegal and asked it to order workers to return to their duties immediately. The two organizations also requested that the court order the state to commence "intensive and urgent negotiations to find a solution to the crisis" and asked the court to organize mediation between the parties after it issues injunctions.
The Histadrut's main demand has to do with the accounts in which workers' pension funds are being managed by the port companies, which they worry may be used to cover future losses. The workers and Histadrut were demanding changes to the way contributions to the funds are managed and that the money be transferred, which they said is similar to the way pension funds are managed at the Israel Airports Authority.
Earlier this month, the Histadrut held a general strike over a labor dispute centering on its demand that the government directly employ contract workers. The National Labor Court ordered that port workers be excluded from that strike.
Nurses had also been expected to launch a "warning strike" Sunday but delayed it by one day in order to give talks more time to succeed. Nurses are protesting overcrowding of hospitals, being overworked and a shortage of nurses in the health system.