Israel's ports strike idles longshoreman, shipping

09:04, January 04, 2011      

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Talks between Israel's Ministry of Finance and striking Histadrut General Federation of Labor entered their second day on Monday, as workers at Haifa, Ashdod, and Eilat ports refused to transfer containers on or off freighters, or provide any other services, local media reported.

The Histadrut is demanding a five percent salary increase for employees who began working after a 2005 ports reform deal, and haggling between the two sides has continued for the last ten months.

"Although the gaps between the Ministry of Finance and the Histadrut are small, the ministry continues to insist on its position. Today, we are embarking on a uncompromising campaign that will result in a decent wage agreement for the port workers." an official of the Transport Workers Union told the Globes business newspaper on Monday.

Carmel Agrexco, Israel's largest exporter of agricultural produce, is the only exporter allowed to use the port facilities, Israel Radio reported Monday morning.

A nationwide strike by public sector workers threatened to bring the country to a halt, until Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini reached a wage agreement, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Histadrut officials told reporters that the strike, which began at 6 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) on Sunday, was open-ended.

Source: Xinhua
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