HAIFA (Oct. 22)
Perishable fruits and other cargoes awaiting export remained untouched on Haifa docks today as a crippling slowdown by dockworkers went into its second week, with no settlement in sight. One shipment of 30,000 cases of citrus, Israel’s largest cash export, consigned to Britain, was held up. Cargo handling in the port in general has dropped by at last 15 percent. Citrus and banana shipments are in danger of spoilage.
The port workers began their slowdown initially in protest against claimed excessive prices for meals in the port. Rejecting appeals by Histadrut, Israel’s Labor Federation, to return to work while the issue was negotiated, the dockworkers widened their demands, finally demanding that a Ministerial Committee be named to hear their grievances, and insisting they would negotiate only with such a committee.
The Haifa Labor Council made a futile effort to induce the stevedores to end their slowdown, while Histadrut and Communications Ministry officials expressed opposition to any Ministerial committee. The situation reached a deadlock summed up by the demand of Histadrut that the workers resume normal work schedules and before their grievances would be investigated. The workers rejected that Histadrut demand.