A new storm is brewing in the turbulent waters of the Ashdod Port, and involves yet another incident of nepotism among workers at the southern Israeli waterway.
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A tender has been issued by the Ashdod Port Company for the highly desired position of port pilot, but despite appearances, the job, at first, was not truly up for grabs.
Israel has only 30 port pilot positions, which involve guiding ships to their berth, and those who earn a coveted spot can make between NIS 45,000 to 77,000 – the top salary tier in the public sector.
The tender was internal, and several ship captains applied. Shortly afterward, however, TheMarker has learned that some of the applicants were advised, reportedly by the Workers’ Committee, to withdraw their applications. The tender was apparently tailor-made for a specific person, the son of one of the pilots in service.
Although the tender specifies that no applicant will be considered if employment could lead to a conflict of interest or a subordinate relationship with a family member, this was disregarded since all pilots have equal ranking. However, the tender caused significant resentment among port employees, leading the Workers’ Committee to remove itself from the hiring process. In a surprise move, the Port Company then extended the deadline for applications.
The small number of pilots (eight each in Ashdod and Haifa, and a few more elsewhere) and their sensitive roles gives them a lot of clout. Over the years this has provided them enormous benefits, with salaries climbing 60% higher than those of port managers.
Last year, a new labor agreement was reached with pilots at Ashdod. Pilots would be added to each shift, resulting in tenders for another pilot in both Ashdod and Haifa. Requirements included a captain’s license and 3 years' experience in commanding a ship or barge. Ashdod added proximity to the port as a requirement, as also stipulated that the port manager would be able to re-define the post. The starting salary was set at NIS 16,000 a month, going up to NIS 30,000 upon receiving the piloting license, and further increasing with experience.
Port Company officials claim that suitable applicants are referred to a selection and appraisal body, so that management has no part in the selection process. They are not responsible, they say, for any circulating rumors.