Stevedores return to work at Ashdod and Haifa ports

Ashdod Port Photo: Eyal Yizhar

The National Labor Court will hand down a decision on contempt of court petitions, after port workers flouted back to work orders, on Tuesday.

Union chiefs have been working through the night to ensure that stevedores will return to work this morning at the Ashdod and Haifa ports. It had been feared that the unions had lost control of the workers, but it is now reported from Haifa Port that they will return to regular work, and sources inform "Globes" that workers at Ashdod Port too have returned to work.

At the end of a stormy session that ended at 2:30 am, a panel of judges in the National Labor Court, headed by the deputy president of the court Ilan Itah, decided not to publish its decisions on the contempt of court petitions and on injunctions concerning Ashdod Port and Haifa Port.

"On the basis of the statement by the heads of the workers committees on the intention to restore the ports to regular operation immediately and fully, and on view of the fact that they worked to that end since the previous night, we have reached the conclusion that at this stage the hearing should be closed, and the workers committee heads should be allowed to continue their efforts to get the ports back to work," Judge Itah declared.

Hundreds of workers from Ashdod Port gathered outside the court building and sang that they would not return to work. The managements of the two ports reported in the course of the overnight court session that work had not yet restarted and that it was impossible to load and unload cargoes.

Summing up the hearing, Judge Itah said, "What happened here is impossible in a law abiding country. This is a problem at the macro level, on the level of labor relations, and it is not connected to Ashdod Port or Haifa Port. What happened here is something that the court cannot pass over in silence.

"We require a report by the managements on the return to work by 10:00 tomorrow, and by 10:00 on Monday morning we require a report on output by the workers at the ports," Itah wrote.

A further hearing will be held on Tuesday at 18:00, when a decision will be handed down on the petitions concerning contempt of court filed by the two ports, after the workers at the ports refused to comply with court orders to end their strikes.

"I say to the all the workers committee heads, this court cannot ignore and will not be able to accept further disruptions by you at the ports," Judge Itah said.

Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) chairman Avi Nissenkorn said during the hearing, "I wish to say to the comrades here, the rule of law is above everything. Even when you think negotiations are not being conducted in good faith, even when you think its s necessary to create a crisis, there is one basic thing, which is that the rule of law comes before everything else. The Histadrut will not backtrack on this."

The strike at the ports, which entered its fourth day yesterday, is over the new, privately-run ports being constructed at Haifa and Ashdod.

Workers committee members who talked to "Globes" last night said, "We're afraid we may have lost control of the workers. They are angrier, and they are ready to pay a million shekels and even be arrested. Every morning they see a huge port being built in front of their eyes, and no-one is interested in them. The workers themselves are more militant than the unions."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 13, 2018

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

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Ashdod Port Photo: Eyal Yizhar
Ashdod Port Photo: Eyal Yizhar
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