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Attempts to avoid all-out strike at Dead Sea Works

Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) chairman Avi Nissenkorn and the leaders of the workers committee at Israel Chemicals (TASE: ICL: NYSE: ICL) subsidiaries Bromine Compounds and Dead Sea Works,

Israel Chemicals' main manufacturing facilities, today discussed stepping up their struggle against the group's cost cutting plan, including a possible all-out strike at Dead Sea Works. Negotiations are taking place between the workers and both Israel Chemicals executives and Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO) officials.

As of noon today, the Dead Sea Works workers committee, headed by Armand Lankri, had not yet decided whether to join the strike by the workers at Bromine Compounds, located in Neot Hovav that began two and a half weeks ago. The committee gave Israel Chemicals' management an ultimatum, saying that if it does not retract the layoffs of 140 workers at Bromine Compounds and more than 130 at Dead Sea Works by 9 PM tonight, it would shut down the plant in Sedom completely.

Following the cost-cutting plan, Dead Sea Workers began sanctions that disrupted work at the company site. Earlier this week, Nissenkorn announced that workers would go on strike at Dead Sea Works starting today, combined with a strike at the Negev local authorities, and called on the government to intervene in the crisis and demand that Israel Corporation controlling shareholder Idan Ofer rescind the cost-cutting plan, which includes layoffs.

Lankri told "Globes" that the condition given to Israel Chemicals management for preventing a complete strike is canceling the planned layoffs at Dead Sea Works and Bromine Compounds. "All sorts of things are being done behind the scenes to get the company down from the tree it has climbed. There is dialogue between the parties at the highest levels. If laying off workers is juxtaposed to the threat of a strike, we have no other choice. Despite the dialogue taking place, no concrete plan is being discussed," Lankri stated. He said that if the negotiations between the parties continue, he will suspend escalation of the struggle and the strike at Dead Sea Works in an attempt to explore any chance of settling the crisis.

Israel Chemicals sources made it clear, however, that they would not give in to the demands by the Dead Sea Works workers committee, which is making negotiations contingent on acceptance of the workers' demands in advance. "Dead Sea Works has no reason to join the strike or to begin sanctions. We believe that it is possible to reach agreement with the committee, provided that it returns to the negotiating table in order to achieve agreement on the cost-cutting plan. We're unwilling to accept an ultimatum, because it's our duty to streamline work at Bromine Compounds, which lost NIS 160 million in 2014 and NIS 1.5 billion over the past decade. That's our duty and responsibility to the majority of the workers and for the sake of the plant's economic justification. No one expects us to disavow our managerial responsibility for the plant's recovery," the sources said.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 18, 2015

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

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