The reports on the working conditions for Ashdod Port workers are doing their bit, it would seem: 3,000 candidates applied within a few days for the 45 new stevedore slots at the port.

About half a year ago the Ashdod Port Company published a tender to hire stevedores, based on anticipation of employees retiring over the next few years and growing activity at the port.

The port wants to put together a list of 100 candidates to be trained as an operating reserve to be called in, if needed, during the course of the next three years.

TheMarker has learned that no fewer than 7,500 applications reached the port in the tender process. It bears noting that some candidates sent in multiple applications, one candidate sending in no less than seven identical applications via different channels.

The port begs to note that blitzing them with paperwork won't actually improve a candidate's chances of being hired.

But some sources at the port explain the candidates are worried their applications will be “disappeared” by union people or by others involved in the tenders, in order to advance their cronies. The rain of applications is therefore designed to foil such interference.

The salary conditions of a stevedore at the port are not necessarily attractive. A beginning stevedore usually earns the minimum wage. But with the addition of premiums and various benefits ensured to Ashdod Port Company employees, his gross monthly salary could amount to NIS 11,000.

Moreover, the gross average salary of Ashdod Port employees climbed between 2009 and 2011 by 17%, from NIS 22,500 monthly to NIS 26,400.

Are candidates paying bribes?

Meanwhile, rumors have been spreading in the port that "certain elements" at the port have demanded money from a number of applicants, in return for help with their hiring process.

The employee intake procedures at the port are carried out by 3-man committees, with one representative from management and two representatives of workers. The workers’ representatives have been known to give a score of 10 to their favorite candidate and 0 to his competitor, thereby skewing the sorting procedure.

Reportedly a complaint has been filed with the police about tampering with the process.

In past years the Ashdod Port starred in state comptroller reports dealing with nepotism at government corporations.

A 2007 report said that the Ashdod Port had the highest rate of family members among the employees of all the government corporations – 44% as compared to 25% at the Haifa Port and 15% at the Israel Postal Company.

Back in 2000 the Ports Authority promised to end the custom of hiring relatives – but at the Ashdod and Haifa Ports the phenomenon continues unchecked.

A review by the state comptroller in 2002-2005 found that out of 250 new employees hired at the Ashdod Port, 116 (46%) were relatives of workers.

In 2006 the Ashdod Port hired 113 stevedores: 25% of them had family members at the port. Inter alia, it was stated that the labor union representatives on the intake committees at the port tended to give especially high marks to applicants with kin at the port and especially low marks to the other applicants.

In other news regarding the Ashdod Port, soldiers began casting their votes for Knesset on Monday, a day before the general election (see video).

Also, last week TheMarker revealed a letter submitted by Ashdod Port Company CEO Yehoshua (Shuki) Sagis to the board of directors, in which he claimed that Gideon Siterman, chairman of the Ashdod Port Company, had handed him a list of six applicants for stevedore jobs at the port whom he described as “important to the transportation minister.”

Among the six was the son of Siterman’s bureau head Danny Halfin, a Likud activist. Sagis added that Siterman was furious because the six applicants had not passed the initial sorting stage and claimed that the port had distorted the results of testing carried out by the KeinanSheffy human resources firm.

Siterman and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) have denied involvement in the matter.