Nineteen cargo ships, some of which are containerships, waited outside Ashdod Port yesterday and some bypassed the port, due to labor dispute between the port's powerful trade union and Ashdod port management.
The cargo vessels were barred from entering the port due to labor sanctions initiated by port employees late last week.
Unofficial reports in Ashdod noted that the work dispute is part of an ongoing conflict between Alon Hassan, head of the port's trade union, and Gideon Siterman, chairman of the Ashdod Port Company.
Siterman's office issued a press release noting that: "Last Thursday the management of the Ashdod Port appealed to the district labor court in the wake of the union local's decision to launch sanctions. In its appeal to the labor court, the port management noted the grave damage being caused to third parties and the economy as a whole, as well as to the good name of the port. The union local is behaving irresponsibly and taking sanctions despite the fact that no labor dispute has been declared, and despite its representatives' obligation to maintain industrial calm. The Ashdod Port Company regrets the union's decision to carry out sanctions and intends to use every legal means available to return to normal work."
Dr. Yoram Sebba, president of the Chamber of Shipping of Israel expressed his bitter disappointment and called upon the parties to find amicable solution to the crisis which hurts not only foreign and Israeli shipping companies but also the Israeli traders.
The Manufacturers Association of Israel (MAI) which represent Israel's exporting community, held an emergency meeting and decided not to act but wait for 48 hours to see how the port management handled the situation.
The head of Israel Road Transport Board, Gaby Ben Harush expressed his disappointment from the lack of action by the Manufacturers Association which decided to wait.