Haifa Chem. workers hold strike, quit Histadrut

Workers claim lack of progress in negotiations with company’s management.

haifa petrochemicals  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
haifa petrochemicals
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Workers from Haifa Chemical held an eight-hour strike on Monday, and quit the Histadrut, in response to what they said was a lack of progress in negotiations with the company’s management.
The workers left the Histadrut and joined “The Democratic Workers Organization,” a group that was founded in 2007 as a competitor to the national labor federation.
In a statement issued on Monday, the organization said the workers made the move in response to “hostile treatment and incitement” practiced by Haifa Chemical against the workers association – and claimed the Histadrut “not only did not support the workers, they justified the actions of the management.”
Additionally, it claimed that negotiations with management – launched through the Histadrut in December – have gone nowhere.
Among the claims of wrongdoing in the statement are the unannounced closing of a work site, and harassment against workers committee protest head, Eli Lutati – which included tearing out his office door and forcing him to work from a different location.
The statement claimed the company also spread lies against the workers’ committee, and that the Histadrurt did not respond to these alleged provocations – and instead decided to hold a meeting of its own on Monday with the company management with the purpose of reaching a final deal without the participation or endorsement of the workers committee.
Lutati said Monday that safety was also an issue for the around 500 workers at the plant.
“Management needs to present an answer for the problems with the health services,” he said. “We need an ambulance and a nurse on hand at the factory at all times. There have been many times where someone was hurt and other workers had to give him help until an ambulance came – which in our area can take up to 30 minutes to arrive.”
In response to the partial strike on Monday, Haifa Chemicals said that the Haifa branch of the Histadrut – and members of the Haifa Chemicals workers’ committee – have been carrying out intensive negotiations with the company’s management since October 2010.
The statement said the Histadrut and the company were certain that they could have reached an agreement satisfactory to all sides after only two or three more meetings.
Among other things, the workers have sought a pay increase of 10%, and voluntary retirement for first generation workers.
The statement blamed the breakdown of talks on “outside interests who have interfered with the negotiations, torpedoing their progress, and are inciting workers in order to cause greater chaos in the company.”