Will the port employees who have an average salary of NIS 30,000 a month receive pension supplements? The port workers' union and the Histadrut Labor Federation announced on Sunday morning that ports in Ashdod, Haifa and Eilat will be going on strike with no set timeframe after negotiations over pension funds failed to yield results.
Israel's Manufacturers' Association has motioned the National Labor Court to issue an injunction against the strike.
The association requested an urgent hearing on the matter to be held Sunday in order to stop the strike and end the disruptions in the ports' activity in the past two weeksA strike in Israel's ports could cause major damage to the economy as well as Israeli importers and exporters. The Finance Ministry has accused the Histadrut and the port workers' union of attempting to extort a salary increase.
The employees are demanding that their pension funds be removed from the Israel Ports Development and Assets Company accounts and be entrusted into a trust fund. They are also demanding that their pension fund allocations be increased and calculated according to the average basic salary in recent years.
The Ports Company calculates the allocations according to the salary determined in 2005 after the port reform went ahead. The employees claim any salary increase since 2005 is not included in the calculation and that each employee is set to lose up to 20% when they retire.
The Histadrut's main demand is focused on the way the workers' pension funds are managed. The Histadrut claims that the funds are in the Ports Company accounts and are in danger if the Company enters any financial difficulties. The employees are demanding that the funds be held in a trust fund until a central pension fund is created along the lines of the fund set up for the Airport Authority employees.
Chairman of the transportation workers union, Avi Edri said that "the pension funds could be in real danger if the Ports Company has financial difficulties. Any creditor can put his hands on the funds and leave the employees to pay the price. We are just trying to ensure that the employees receive what is theirs to begin with."
Calcalist reporter Miki Peled added that the Finance Ministry said in response: "The Histadrut Labor Federation is once again using a strike to promote personal interests and in order to extort salary increases at the expense of the taxpayers while damaging the economy.
"This less than two weeks after an agreement was signed with the port workers that gave them a 3% increase on an average salary of NIS 30,000 a month. Presenting the current strike as a battle over pensions is nothing more than a deception meant to hide the fact that they are once again attempting to squeeze out another salary hike."