A general view of the Israeli army navy port of Ashdod, May 31, 2010
A general view of the Israeli army navy port of Ashdod, May 31, 2010 © Jack Guez - AFP/File
A general view of the Israeli army navy port of Ashdod, May 31, 2010
AFP
Last updated: October 8, 2014

Israeli unions warn of strike against state companies

Israel's Histadrut trade union federation warned Tuesday of potential strike action against state-owned companies in response to government plans to privatise some of them.

The action could affect defence manufacturers, airports, the railway and the national electricity corporation, among others.

Histadrut "announced industrial disputes with 11 government companies," saying the action was in response to a Monday announcement on privatisation.

In a separate statement it also declared a dispute in respect of a 12th concern, the airports authority, over the government's intention to increase the royalties it levies.

Declaring an industrial dispute is legally required to provide a 14-day cooling-off period before strike action may go ahead.

A ministerial committee announced plans Monday to sell shares in state-owned enterprises expected to add 15 billion shekels ($4.07 billion/3.26 billion euros) to state coffers over the next three years, the finance ministry said.

Minority holdings would be sold for firms "in which the state has an interest in retaining long-term governmental control," such as the electricity corporation, aviation, trains, water, mail and natural gas industries, according to the finance ministry.

It will also sell off companies in which it has no long-term interest, such as the ports at Ashdod and Haifa, a modified and declassified military industry (with the state retaining the right to determine the ownership), the Dead Sea (mineral) Works and others.

Histadrut, the umbrella organisation for the country's main unions, complained Tuesday that it had not been consulted on the privatisation plans.

"The decision, which bears critical implications for the status of workers, was taken unilaterally, without negotiations with the workers' representatives," it said.

Histadrut "protests at the state's attempt to force dramatic changes on the workers in violation of all norms and customs usual in collective labour relations."

"Issuing shares in government companies is liable to bring far-reaching changes concerning workers' rights and conditions of employment, while harming their status, wages, and employment security," the statement added.

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