Close to 70 percent of all Israeli Port Company activity was halted Thursday due to the refusal of several Ashdod Port employees to wear a reflective vest, contrary to explicit orders by the company’s management.
The Israel Port Company management decided to cease loading and shipping of containers after a number of port workers, who originally arrived for work wearing the vests, took them off in protest over management procedure, The Marker reported.
According to the port management, an order to wear reflective vests was given in the year 2000 and was prompted by worker safety concerns.
The port workers, on the other hand, claimed that management had surprisingly put the orders into effect without consulting with the employees. The workers asserted that the orders were nonsensical, and suggested that management had attempted to assert its power at the workers’ expense.
“Up to this day, for years, we did not wear vests. They are uncomfortable overalls and they’re blinding,” Avi Edry, chairman of the Transport Workers Union, told the Marker.
“Someone is trying to flare up the ports,” he added.
Inefficiency at Israel’s state-owned ports costs the economy much as NIS 5 billion ($1.42 billion) annually, according to a 2009 government report. Some 90% of the country’s imports and exports pass through the Haifa and Ashdod ports.
On Monday, work at the ports was disrupted for nearly an hour because of a dispute over the replacement of a crane.