Intifada forces Israeli cement monopoly to lay off workers

Published November 29th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The board of directors of Israel’s Nesher cement monopoly has decided to lay off 150 workers, or 20 percent of its total labor force, from its factories in Ramlah, Hartuv and nearby Haifa. This follows a two-week forced vacation imposed during October on all the workers at the Hartuv factory and a number of workers at the other two facilities. The vacation period was organized in coordination with the Histadrut labor federation and the relevant worker’s unions. 


A senior official at the company explained that the measure was necessary because of a continuing fall in production at the factories, which is today 30 percent to 50 percent lower than the level that existed prior to the outbreak of violence in the Palestinian territories. He said that the dismissal of the workers was only one of a number of steps being taken to reduce expenditure. 


The dramatic fall in Nesher’s cement output is a direct result of a paralysis at building sites around the country, brought on by the fact that Palestinian workers are not getting to their jobs in Israel. Furthermore, no cement is getting through to the Palestinian Authority, which usually accounts for between 15 percent and 20 percent of Nesher’s sales. 


The Nesher directors are also well aware that, when the current trouble subsides, the Palestinian Authority’s status as a major client may be reduced. The Palestinians, it turns out, are attempting to reduce their dependence upon Israeli supply by establish additional sources of cement, predominantly from Turkey. 


There is also concern that Turkish cement will find its way to the Israeli market. On November 21, workers representatives from Nesher’s three factories met with Amir Peretz, the head of the Histadrut, to discuss means which might be taken to prevent the import of cement both from Turkey and Jordan. 


Another problem on the minds of the Nesher board is the state of negotiations over the sale Mashav — Nesher’s mother company — to CRH, an Irish consortium involved in construction and cement production. Because of the crisis in the territories, an air of uncertainty hangs over that process. — (Albawaba-MEBG)

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