Workers at Israel Chemicals’ Rotem Amfert phosphate plant near Arad in the south put a halt to export shipments of the material after shipments from another Israel Chemicals division, Periclase, was halted at the beginning of the week. The sanctions came at the direction of the Histadrut labor federation in support of 850 workers at Israel Chemicals Bromine Compounds facility south of Be’er Sheva, who have been on strike for over a week over the planned layoff of 140 workers there.
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Some of the layoffs have already been carried out. At the instruction of the workers’ committee there, employees who receive notices of pre-dismissal hearings are refusing to show up for the sessions.
The workers’ committee at Bromine Compounds has proposed that instead of layoffs, employees be offered a plan of voluntary departures. Committee chairman Avner Ben-Seniyor claimed that 70 older workers have so far expressed a readiness to leave on that basis, but Israel Chemicals management said the workers’ committee is demanding highly excessive severance terms for those who leave on their own, involving more than a million shekels (more than $250,000) per employee. The company said stiff competition and low global commodity prices make the planned layoff unavoidable. Employees have been staging daily demonstrations at the homes of company executives.