Union Boss Opts Out of Rally After Deal With Netanyahu

Chairman of Dead Sea Works workers committee appears to have missed weekend anti-PM protest in exchange for promises for gov't help in settling layoffs dispute at plant.

Olivier Fitoussi

Edmond Lankri, the chairman of the Dead Sea Works workers committee, appears to have absented himself from an anti-Netanyahu rally over the weekend in exchange for promises for government help in settling a dispute over layoffs at the plant.

Lankri, who is also an activist for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, was supposed to appear at the Saturday rally in Tel Aviv calling for a change in government. But the day before the rally he announced he would not appear, citing its “overt political character.”

Lankri expressed support for the “social messages of the rally” and organizers inadvertently included his name among those who would appear on the stage.

Instead of attending the rally, Lankri took part in a Likud conference in Holon that night. On the conference sidelines he was called for a conversation with Netanyahu and Silvan Shalom, the minister for development of the Negev and Galilee.

The talk also included Avner Ben-Senior, who heads the workers committee of Bromine Compounds, a sister company of Dead Sea Works, both of which are units of Israel Chemicals. Lankri said that he decided to attend the meeting only after opting out of the rally.

In any case, he said the prime minister promised to use his influence in connection with the labor dispute and might even make use of the government’s gold share in ICL to prevent the layoffs.

After Sunday’s cabnet meeting, Netanyahu instructed Michal Abadi-Bouiangui, the treasury accountant general, “to examine the issue of layoffs at ICL.”

Between Dead Sea Works and Bromine, ICL is planning to lay off about 270 workers, which prompted a strike that began two weeks ago. The Histadtrut labor federation is threatening a Negev-wide strike on Thursday in support of the ICL workers, just days before the general election.