Labor Dispute Over Layoffs at Israel Chemicals Subsidiary Heats Up

Car of a Bromine Compounds executive was vandalized as company employees allegedly taunt executives' children while demonstrating outside their homes.

Eyal Toueg

The car of a Bromine Compounds executive was vandalized this week and executives said company employees taunted their children while demonstrating outside their homes, as tensions between management and labor ratcheted up over layoffs of 140 workers at the Israel Chemical subsidiary in the Negev.

Bromine vice president Ran Oren’s tire was punctured Tuesday night, and workers at the Be’er Sheva-based company have been staging protests outside the homes of company executives Ehud Nitzan and Nitzan Moshe. The demonstrations include threatening chants such as “Your father won’t be coming back” as the children are leaving for school, company executives said.

Company executives have filed police complaints. Union officials denied the accusations.

On Monday, workers at the Bromine Compounds plant, located in Neot Hovav, south of Be’er Sheva, staged a strike that shut down the plant and the company’s headquarters after the initial round of layoffs began.

Meir Babiof, the Negev district chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, and Avner Ben-Senior, who heads the Bromine Compounds union, acknowledged that workers caused a fuss outside a fancy restaurant in Be’er Sheva where Oren was dining with guests from abroad Tuesday. They denied, however, that any of the employees had approached his car.

They said Oren was able to drive away for 10 kilometers before discovering he had a flat tire, meaning that it was not reasonable to assume one of the company’s employees was responsible for the flat.

Babiof and Ben-Senior said the claim about taunting executives’ children was a total fabrication. It was the workers’ right, they said, to demonstrate in front of the officials’ homes over the layoffs, as provided by law. The union representatives said the protests would continue.