This is due to a staged slowdown at Ashdod Port. The wildcat slowdown had not receive any official approval from the Histadrut labor federation
Ashdod port dockworkers staged last week an unauthorized work slowdown causing long and unacceptable delays in unloading cargo and other port maitainnance work.
According to Aashdod port's management the wildcat slowdown had not receive any official approval from the Histadrut labor federation (General Federation of Labor in Israel).
The port's management has therefore made an application to the Histadrut to intervene and get the port employees back to work.
Reuven Zuk, prersident of the Chamber of Shipping called on cargo ships and cargo owners to divert cargo from Ashdod and use other ports instead - primarily Haifa, where there are fewer labor disputes.
Zuk added that the Chamber would meet in Haifa on Sunday to decide on operative steps against Ashdod Port management.
Zuk also noted that "ship and cargo owners cannot base their daily import / export businesses on a port that is losing its credibility". He emphasized that according to port reform agreement agreed upon by the government and the workers, the unions must refrain from strike actions. The problem, he said, was that the reforms did not provide any tools "for coping with agreement violations and disruptions by workers."
One of the main reasons for the labor unrest was a dispute between the port's unions and management over physical work conditions. The workers made a claim that there was an accute shortage of equipment and that the pace of repairing existing equipment is slow, resulting in lower productivity and slower customer service.
It is also believed that port workers want to express their opposition to the Histadrut's plan to replace the multitude of unions with a single port workers' council. The Histadrut committed to this policy under the port reforms agreement launched in February 2005.
Ashdod Port Company CEO Shuki Sagis said in response that the strike was an illegal wildcat strike by the port’s workers, and violates industrial quiet that is basis of the ports reform agreement signed by both the workers and the Histadrut. He added that Zuk's call to divert ships and cargo to other ports was against the port’s achievements and its opening to international lines and commercial ties with shippers.
Ashdod Port is the economic gateway to the State of Israel. Located just 40 km. from Tel Aviv, Ashdod is the closest port to the densely populated center of the country with rapid access to Israel’s major highways. Ashdod Port handled 587,000 TEUs in 2005 compared to 545,000 TEUs the previous year, and in the first four months of 2006, the Port handled 6.4% more TEUs than the same period in 2005. During 2005, the average operational waiting time for a container ship was reduced from 14.8 hours in 2004 to 7.3 hours.