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The workers at Ashdod port don't have the backing of their union, but they're protesting anyway. The workers have imposed an unauthorized work slowdown since last week, refusing to unload cargoes from ships or do other port work in a timely manner.

The Histadrut has not approved their action. The port's management has therefore asked the labor federation to intervene and get the employees back to work.

One reason for the strife is a dispute between the port's unions and management over physical work conditions.

The employees claim equipment is short and it gets repaired too slowly, resulting in lower productivity and slower customer service.

An unofficial grievance is worker opposition to the Histadrut's plan to replace the multitude of unions with a single port workers' council. The Histadrut committed to this policy under the port reforms launched in February 2005.
 
A forum of port users called on cargo ships to stop calling at Ashdod and use other ports instead - primarily Haifa, where there are fewer strikes. Forum president Reuven Tzuk added that the organization would meet in Haifa on Sunday to "decide on operative steps to be taken against Ashdod Port management."

Tzuk also said that "ship and cargo owners cannot base their businesses on a port that is losing its credibility," adding that port reforms oblige the unions to refrain from strikes. The problem, he said, was that reforms did not provide tools "for coping with agreement violations and disruptions by workers."