One day after the National Labor Court rejected the Israel Electric Corporation's request for a back-to-work order for its protesting employees, the workers have been ordered to ease up on their industrial action. Judge Maha Smair-Ammar of the Haifa Labor Court ruled yesterday that the workers could not prevent the unloading of imported coal from four ships scheduled to arrive at Hadera and Ashkelon.

The state-owned electricity company had told the court that the country's coal reserves had dropped below the necessary minimum due to industrial action by workers refusing to unload imported coal.

In her ruling, Smair-Ammar accepted the IEC argument that the company had become a hostage to the labor dispute which, it said, it did not have the power to resolve.

The industrial dispute centers around IEC workers' demand for a new collective work agreement. The staffers are also demanding that the government refrain from any move toward the planned break-up and privatization of the IEC, without prior agreement from the workers.