The "Histadrut" Labour Federation and negotiators of the Ministry of Finance Ministry headed by Finance Wages Director Mr. Yuval Rachlevsky. reached a compromise last Wednesday, ending the longest ever port strike in Israel’s history.
According to the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and the Manufacturers Association the strike caused some NIS 4 billion in direct damages to the industrial and commercial sectors.
Mr. Eyal Malamud Chairman of the Israeli Shippers Council told reporters that dozens of ships, carrying cargoes worth over NIS 3 billion, unloaded cargo at nearby ports and some are still awaiting to be unloaded. Mr. Malamud emphasized that for the past three weeks, the three main maritime gateways were operating only partially despite the Labor Court decision that the ports’ workers should return to a full work schedule. The port workers, however, continued to work on a part-time schedule, unloading only 20%- 25% of the import and export shipments.
Within the framework of the newly signed agreement, the port workers agreed to relinquish their demands that the Government should abandon the long awaited privatization reform and ensure the monopoly position of the three marine gateways – Ashdod, Haifa and Eilat.
The Government, in return, pledged to freeze the privatization legislation by seven months during which the parties will enter into intensive negotiation process to agree on new labour agreement covering pension and employee-management relations in the future port structure. The Finance Ministry said that under the deal, a fund of between 80 million to 150 million shekels would be set up to compensate port workers for being transferred to private port companies when the privatization is fully implemented.
Following the signing of the agreement on Thursday morning , the Histadrut Labour Federation instructed all port workers to return to work however some militant disagreed and continued their strike action. On Sunday morning (8/8/04) after tough and long negotiation between the Histadrut Labour Federation and worker's representatives, port of Haifa workers returned to work. However, at the port of Ashdod some "pockets of resistance" to the agreement were calling to the replacement of the worker's committee with other members. Today, only the ports of Haifa and Eilat were back to normal.