200 workers in the Ashdod oil refineries launched an unanticipated strike, bringing oil supplying to a halt, in protest of stagnant negotiations between the Histadrut labor federation and the Government Companies Authority over the privatization of the refineries.

The strike could cause shortages in gas stations across the country.

The Chairman of the energy sector employees, David Glanous, said after being informed of the strike that if the crisis isn't solved, Haifa refinery workers would also join the strike.

This latest crisis in talks could lead to delays in the privatization and the splitting of the Haifa and Ashdod refineries.

The dead end was reached after the parties had already agreed in principal that within the framework of the privatization process, each of the Ashdod refineries employees will receive between NIS150,000 and NIS300,000.

The Government Companies Authority expressed their surprise with the strike.

"This is unacceptable saber rattling. The talks are progressing in a correct way and the Histadrut's real motives are unclear," officials in the Finance Ministry said.