Ashdod Port workers seek to renew strike

Ashdod Port photo: Tamar Matsafi

The workers are asking the Histadrut to call a legal strike and restore their "democratic right".

Workers at Ashdod Port are asking the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel), to which most of them belong, to renew the strike at the port legally from Wednesday, after the hearing in the National Labor Court set for Tuesday at 18:00, "Globes" has learned. The hearing concerns petitions alleging contempt of court, following breach of the injunctions handed down by the National Labor Court ordering striking port workers to return to normal work, and the failure of the workers' representatives to attend previous court hearings.

The workers claim that the strike is a question of a democratic right which has been denied them, and say that this is an opportunity for the Histadrut to prove itself and restore their right.

Avi Even-Haim, acting chairman of the mechanical equipment workers union at the port, said, "For years, the court has denied the workers a basic constitutional right, enshrined in international treaties and international law. An agenda has come about fed by incitement against the port workers, whereby the law and democratic rights do not apply to us. Last week we discovered in talks on the ports reform that the state seeks to eliminate Ashdod Port. On Tuesday, we shall put an end to this unfair equation that denies the workers of Ashdod Port their democratic rights. This is an opportunity for the Histadrut to prove itself and restore the right to strike and defend the workers."

It appears that the recent strike weakened the ties between the representative body and the workers. Yesterday evening, hundreds of Ashdod Port workers called on Avi Edri, the Histadrut transport union chairman, to resign. The Histadrut has testified in the recent court hearings that it was not a party to the sanctions imposed by the workers.

The coordinated strike by workers at Ashdod Port and Haifa Port that began last Wednesday afternoon ended yesterday morning. Nevertheless, it turns out that at least at Ashdod Port the workers did not return to work at full output, leading the port management to turn to the court once more.

The Histadrut said in response, "The Histadrut is committed to the port workers. The days of foot dragging in the negotiations are over. The state needs to understand that it must enter into marathon talks with the Histadrut and the workers with one aim, which is to safeguard the future of the port workers. The Histadrut will lead the negotiations determinedly, in a way that will ensure security for the port workers. On this, our stance is unequivocal. If the negotiations fail, we shall not hesitate, and shall utilize every legal means at our disposal."

Behind the unrest at the port are the new, privately held ports under construction in Haifa and Ashdod.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 14, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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Ashdod Port photo: Tamar Matsafi
Ashdod Port photo: Tamar Matsafi
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