TEL AVIV (Jan. 2)
A work slowdown by longshoremen at Israel’s new port of Ashdod at the height of the citrus export season is causing serious economic losses and has disclosed a rift between the local labor council and Histadrut, Israel’s powerful labor federation. The slowdown, now in its third day, has caused the diversion of a number of ships to Haifa. But longshoremen there, embroiled in a dispute of their own with the Port Authority, have decided not to load or unload vessels originally destined for Ashdod.
Gen. Chaim Laskoff, head of the Ashdod Port Authority, demanded that Histadrut order the longshoremen to resume their normal work schedule in accordance with their contract. Histadrut gave the order but the workers did not comply. As a result, Ashdod is operating at 50 percent of capacity. The local trade union originally signed a contract but later reneged on it and submitted new demands that were rejected.