Port Workers at Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat Go on Strike

General strike starts 6 A.M. Sunday over demands including pay increase, establishment of central pension fund; government says some demands 'unrealistic.'

Workers at Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat ports called a general strike starting at 6 A.M. on Sunday morning, after overnight talks between representatives of the finance and transportation ministries, leaders of the Histadrut labor federation and workers’ committees failed to reach an agreement to prevent the strike.

Port workers are calling the strike over a variety of demands, including a pay increase, the establishment of a central pension fund.

Ashdod port - Iliya Melnikov
Iliya Melnikov

The chairman of the federation of transport workers in the Histadrut, Avi Adri, said that “the pension funds are likely to really be at risk of the port companies fall into financial difficulties. Any creditor can come to management, to get their hands on these accounts, and the employees will pay the price. In the end, we want to guarantee what the workers deserve.”

The government said that it is not clear why the committees have chosen to strike at this time, and described some of the strikers claims as “unrealistic.”

“The Histadrut and the port committees are once again using a strike to advance personal interests,” the Finance ministry said in response, adding that less than two weeks ago an agreement over port workers salaries granted them a pay increase of three percent on their average salary, which stands at some NIS 30,000 a month.

Earlier this month, the Israel Railways union announced a strike, freezing the country’s national train service only one day after days-long a nationwide general strike was called off after an agreement was reached by the Finance Ministry and Histadrut labor federation.