Israel ports may be shut by a strike as early as this week by port workers opposing competition in the sector, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz warned last week.
Speaking at an annual shipping conference organized by the Israeli Shipper's Council in Tel Aviv, Katz said he doubted that talks now under way would head off a strike, which could have profound consequences in an economy where 90% of international trade goes through the country's three maritime gateways.
Katz noted that the government would not back down on plans to establish privately operated ports in competition with the state-owned facilities.
Later in the week Transportation Minister Katz said that reform at Israel's sea ports will proceed despite the sharp opposition from port workers' committees.
Katz noted, “It will be a strike in vain. Even if they strike for a year there’s no chance to alter the decision to build new ports,” Katz said, adding that “2,000 workers won't be allowed to bring the country to its knees.”
Meanwhile it is understood that the government in Israel is taking measures to counter any supply chain disruptions from expected strikes at Ashdod and Haifa ports.
The Israeli transport ministry has recently given soft loans to a couple of private companies to buy portable heavy lift cranes to handle containers in the event that a strike arrives.