Israeli Workers Strike at Ports of Ashdod, Eilat, and Haifa Shuts Down Shipping

March 09: Two thousand five hundred workers at the Eilat, Haifa and Ashdod ports began a strike Monday after unsuccessful salary negotiations between the Histadrut National Labor Union and the Finance Ministry broke down.

The strike has halted the loading and unloading of cargo in the three ports.

In a statement released by the Histadrut the strike was launched after a dead-end, was reached with the ministry. The union says salary negotiations have been ongoing for the last ten months and the dispute concerns salary supplements for second-generation port workers who began employment at the port following the reforms agreement of 2005. The Histadrut union is fighting to get a 5-percent salary raise after not receiving bonuses that were supposed to be awarded under the 2005 reform act.

The Finance Ministry responded to the strike with a statement saying that the port workers have the highest average pay in the public sector and their wages recently increased by 35% following a reform agreement. In response to second-generation workers salary, the Finance Ministry says those port workers wages have increased 50-percent over the last five years.

The Federation of Israel has agreed to resume talks with the union in hopes of getting workers back to work. If the strike lasts a week, it could cost the economy NIS 400 million.

Port workers in Israel are among the highest paid public sector employees.

Source: Maritime Executive

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