State Loses High Court Appeal in Ports Case


 The government campaign to build new seaports despite strenuous union opposition suffered a setback after the High Court dismissed a state appeal against a National Labor Court decision in late July to order a one-month stay of the tenders for private ports construction.

High Court Judge Tzvi Zylbertal ruled that there was no reason to intervene in labor negotiations at this time. He also said he would review the state’s appeal after the parties report on progress of the negotiations by September 2, as ordered by the Labor Court. In the meantime, the Labor Court’s ban of a workers’ strike also still stands.

The National Labor Court judges determined that the government had been dealing with the Histadrut and the Ashdod Port workers committee in “bad faith.” Notably, the government’s decision to renege “overnight” on an arrangement reached six months earlier with the unions.

That draft agreement balanced the interests of the state with those of the workers. It called for privatization of Ashdod Port Company and the construction of a private port adjacent to it, but at the same time safeguarded the workers with guarantees of the Ashdod Port’s financial soundness and the power of its workers committee.

The Histadrut welcomed the High Court ruling. “There was no justification for appealing to the Court while a hearing is underway at the National Labor Court,” said the union’s attorney in the case. “The attempt to undermine the Labor Court’s ruling and its authority to manage the process was out of place. We hope that at this stage the state will respect the court’s ruling and abide by it, and conduct genuine negotiations in an attempt to solve the disputes, as it should have done from the beginning.”