Cargo operations at the Israeli port of Ashdod have not yet been restored to normal as reports have emerged of intentional slowdowns by workers in loading and unloading operations.
Namely, disruptions in loading operations started on Monday and resumed on Tuesday with ships being handled at half the usual pace, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.
The slowdowns come following workers’ strike in two Israeli ports, Ashdod and Haifa over privatization of the country’s two major ports.
Two international companies, Chinese Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) and Dutch Terminal Investment Limited (TIL), have signed separate contracts to operate the two ports in exchange for investment in development of the ports’ infrastructure. Under the deal, the companies are entitled to chose their own workforce, which might imply hiring foreign labor force for lower salaries over local personnel.
The workers were ordered back to work by the labor court, however they returned to work having succumbed to the pressure from port officials who threatened with sanctions and even criminal charges should the strike continue.
“There have been major delays in the service provided to customers of the port. Ships that are due to dock at the port are choosing to obtain services at another port, which endangers our contracts with customers and could cause other serious damage, much of which would be irreversible,” the daily quoted a letter from the port of Ashdod’s management.
According to the letter, workers who continue to disrupt port operations would not receive their salaries.
A total of 40 ships were affected by the slowdowns at the port.
World Maritime News Staff; Image: Port of Ashdod