According to Reuters, dockworkers in Haifa walked off the job this week in protest of the plan to build new ports in Haifa and Ashdod. Israel’s union has opposed the construction of private ports which will eventually break up the state-owned ports’ monopoly on imports and exports.
Avi Edri, Chairman of the Israeli transport workers’ union, announced that “the strike is part of a labor dispute that was declared illegal following the State’s will issued in a unilateral move without an agreement in place that included employee rights.”
China Harbour Engineering Co. is building the 3.3 billion shekels ($876 million) facility at Ashdod, to be completed in 2020, which will be able to receive container ships larger than the government-owned ports can currently handle. The Reuters article reported that the contractor for a new port in Haifa has yet to be chosen.
The Finance Ministry announced a three-year privatization plan that allows for the sale of state-owned ports in Ashdod and Haifa in 2015 and 2016 respectively. The union called for the government to reach a deal with dockworkers before announcing any new port moves.
Nearly all of Israel’s trade moves by ship or airfreight. The port unions in Israel are known for frequently disrupting operations and a labour court usually orders the workers to return to their jobs within a day. Dockworkers also walked off on Oct. 6 in protest, but the strike ended a day later.
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