Israel is bracing for port strikes as unions prepare to fight port privatization after a call for tenders to build two US$1.1 billion private container terminals at the state-owned ports of Haifa and Ashdod.
The Israeli Government issued tenders for two private container terminals in the ports of Haifa and Ashdod that would compete with heavily unionized facilities in the nation’s two largest ports.
The private terminals will be able to handle the largest Triple-E Class vessels, of more than(Twenty-foot equivalent unit) TEU 18,000 compared with the TEU 9,500 maximum that existing facilities accommodate today.
The Israel Ports Company, which is handling the bidding process, says current facilities will run out of capacity by 2017-18, as traffic is forecast to grow at an annual rate of more than 5% through the decade.
The new terminals will each have a 1.4 million TEU annual capacity. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted last week:" Two thousand people will not be allowed to shut down the economy at will. I am not prepared to accept this monopoly. It's over."
Transport Minister Israel Katz said strikes aimed at stopping the reforms would be tantamount to a "declaration of war" to which the government would respond with equal determination.