Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO
Netanyahu in Ashdod
Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO

Haifa dock workers strike as Israel begins work on new port

Chinese firm breaks ground on new private seaport in Ashdod, near existing state-owned facility, expected to handle large container ships.

A Chinese construction firm began construction of a new Israeli port on the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday, prompting a strike at Haifa docks further up the coast where the workers oppose the new competition.



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's goverment, looking to break up the monopoly of two state-owned ports in Haifa and Ashdod through which nearly all exports and imports pass, recently approved creating private ports adjacent to the current ones.


The move, it says, will bring down the cost of goods across the board.


Netanyahu and Lapid at port ceremony (Photo: GPO)
Netanyahu and Lapid at port ceremony (Photo: GPO)

A subsidiary of China Harbour Engineering Co is building the 3.3 billion shekel ($876 million) port in Ashdod, which is due to be completed in 2020. The port's operator has not been chosen and the contract for Haifa has yet to be awarded.


The new ports will eventually be able to receive the large container ships that presently cannot dock in Israel.


As Prime Minister Netanyahu and senior ministers gathered at a groundbreaking ceremony in Ashdod, workers in Haifa left their posts – for the second time this month – complaining that the new competition would hurt their jobs.


Prime Minister Netanyahu in Ashdod (Photo: GPO)
Prime Minister Netanyahu in Ashdod (Photo: GPO)


They called on the government to reach a deal with unions about any moves it makes in the port sector.


"You have rights," Netanyahu said of the port workers in a speech. "But eight million Israeli citizens also have rights – the right to have competitive, modern, efficient port services."


Netanyahu said the project was a "further expression of the strengthening ties between Israel and China".


The port unions in Israel are known for frequently disrupting operations and a labor court usually orders the workers to return to their jobs within a day.


The Finance Ministry has also announced a three-year privatization plan for state-owned companies that calls for selling off the Ashdod port in 2015 and the Haifa port in 2016.


פרסום ראשון: 10.28.14, 17:39
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