Histadrut Leader Calls Off Press Conference to Meet Netanyahu

YERUSHALAYIM -

A looming confrontation between the Israeli government and the unions over the issue of ports reform and privatization could be on the way to resolution. Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini canceled a press conference on Sunday after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called to ask for a meeting that evening to discuss the matter.

Eini said he planned to make a statement on the government’s announced intention to publish tenders for the construction of private ports in Ashdod and Haifa, without prior consultation.

“Netanyahu apparently realized that he did not want a confrontation, especially when his government is so fragile,” a Histadrut source told Globes.

Eini’s aides said Sunday that he had not intended to declare a labor dispute, belying earlier reports. Rather, he had in mind a general attack on Netanyahu over the budget, branding it an “orchestrated campaign” against Israeli labor.

The Histadrut believes that a labor dispute leading to a strike would be playing into the hands of the government, and they were hoping for it.

“There are worse things than a strike,” said a source close to Eini, an apparent reference to a Histadrut aligned with opposition parties in battling Netanyahu and Lapid.

Eini’s aides believe that the government strategy portraying the Histadrut as opposed to competition is meant to divert attention from the austerity budget, and to blacken the Histadrut and organized labor in general.