Israel's Port Workers Afraid to Stop Using Services of Union Boss' Firms

Ashdod Port board hires external purchasing director because port staff wouldn't look into alternative sources for purchasing services.

Ashdod Port workers are afraid to stop using the services of companies owned by union chief Alon Hassan, VP-Logistics Yossi Bassan told the government company’s board at a recent meeting.

An expose by Channel 2 revealed the port was purchasing services from private companies owned by Hassan, including cleaning products from a private company named A.Y. Hops Industries and a transport company named Ben-Iden Trucking, all of which could represent a conflict of interest.

Hassan took a leave of absence from his union post after the allegations surfaced in June. An internal review of the affair found that the port purchased NIS 500,000 in pier cleaning products from A.Y. Hops over the past two years. Four companies ostensibly participated in the tender, but all four companies were offering A.Y. Hops’ products, found the report. The board ordered the management to look into alternative sources for these products, but workers in the purchasing department apparently were afraid to do so or to even publish a new tender.

Therefore, the board decided to hire an external purchasing director to conduct the tender without the involvement of port staff. Concerns about the employees’ fears were raised at the board meeting, and the matter was brought to the attention of the Government Companies Authority. It may also be passed on to the attorney general and the police as part of a request to investigate potential criminal wrongdoing in the affair.

Meanwhile, the port has stopped working with Hassan’s transport company, whose trucks entered and left the port 2,100 times since 2011, providing services to port customers including 140 importers and 22 exporters. Hassan had argued that he was not involved in the company’s management but was kept appraised of its affairs.

The board is still discussing the port’s dealings with logistics company Dana Engineering, which is owned by Yaniv Baltar, Hassan’s partner at an Ashdod restaurant they own.

That company allegedly was allowed to rent a building at the port without going through a tender process, found the board’s report.

The board is yet to reach a decision regarding this company, apparently due to the problematic nature of ordering it to stop providing services to third-party companies that are port customers.

Port chairman Gideon Siterman confirmed that the VP-logistics had asked for the board’s backing in launching a tender for dock cleaning supplies due to concerns that port workers were facing pressure.

Ilya Melnikov