Workers at Israel's ports have called strikes in response to Wednesday's passage of legislation for structural changes that will lead to their privatization.
The workers said the strike at Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat ports will not be of limited duration. Since Monday, Ashdod port workers have refused to handle cargo, and at Haifa port workers also started strike actions earlier in the week, Haaretz reported. These strikes interrupted the loading and unloading of ships already at the docks and prevented other vessels from being admitted into ports.
The government has started to explore ways of mitigating any damage caused by the ports strike. Among other measures, it could help exporters and importers move their products via ports in Jordan and Egypt, the report added.
Before the port workers' announcement Wednesday night, Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tried to preempt a strike or at least reduce its consequences. Thus, he ordered his aides to arrange a meeting with delegates from the treasury and the labor union to try to address their differences and pave the way to implement the structural reforms.
Among other changes, the new law stipulates that each of the three ports of Ashdod, Haifa and Eilat are to be incorporated as independent companies that will compete against each other. These firms will pay an annual fee of 4 percent of their revenues to the government.
The law is due to go into effect in 60 days. (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )