Israeli ports of Ashdod and Haifa are closed today as port workers resume strike over privatization of the country’s two major ports.
Namely, Chinese Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) has won a tender to operate the new port being developed in Haifa Bay whereas Dutch Terminal Investment Limited (TIL) has been selected winner of the tender to operate South Port in Ashdod.
The two companies are scheduled to sign the respective contracts today afternoon. Once the contracts are signed, the two companies will be able to hire staff who are not members of Israel’s Histadrut Labor Union that might result in hiring of cheaper international labour force over local personnel.
The workers launched a strike on Wednesday that continued today as well despite a decision of the country’s labor court to return to work.
The country’s transportation minister Yisrael Katz said that the strike would not affect the signing ceremony.
As reported by Israel’s Ynetnews, there are currently six ships at the Haifa Port, pending completion of their loading/unloading, while six others are waiting to be docked at the Haifa Bay.
In addition, eighteen ships are reported to be waiting to be unloaded and reloaded in the docks at the Ashdod Port, while seven others were waiting at sea.
“Every hour of the strike causes heavy damage and weighs on Israeli exports and imports,” David Castle, the vice-president of the Chamber of Shipping, is quoted as saying by Israel National News.
Israel’s shipping company ZIM said in a customer advisory that its ADX ZVP 19 will be omitting Ashdod amid operational reasons.
“All import cargo shall be transferred to the destination port on ZIM’s account. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this incident may cause and assure you we are doing the best to find an appropriate solution for your cargo,” the advisory reads.
World Maritime News Staff; Image: Port of Ashdod