Share and Share Alike

The advice Israeli labor leader Avi Edri offered at the Haaretz Infrastructure and Transportation conference two days ago was reported in ( as follows:

“Union chief: Want to sell ports? Give employees some shares”

“The chairman of the transportation workers union in the Histadrut labor federation, Avi Edri, yesterday hinted at a mechanism that would enable the (Israeli) government to sell its seaports.

“‘Port workers aren’t afraid of change, but seek a worker-partner approach by the government,’ Edri said at the Haaretz Infrastructure and Transportation conference, in his first comment on the possibility of expediting the privatization of the seaport government companies.

“His concept is roughly that reached for Arkia airlines, Edri explained, which involved a sweetheart stock deal for workers. ‘Certainly if we become shareholders, our mind-set would be different from what it has been up until now,’ he added …”

“The past six months has seen growing calls to expedite full privatization due to labor unrest at the ports making life even more difficult for exporters, who are already being slammed by the shekel’s steep appreciation against foreign currencies.

“Edri hedged his comments, noting that an ‘atmosphere of privatization’ is needed, and in the current mood of upheavals, and with current labor relations within the port communities, it will be impossible to move up final privatization …”

“The chairman of the Israeli Ports Company, Major General (ret.) Yiftah Ron-Tal … also agreed that an accord with the workers would be essential …”

“A spokesman for the company’s management said that handling and workshop workers are staging a slowdown, despite union promises to the tribunal …”

“Labor relations at the Ashdod port have worsened of late. An increasingly acrimonious dispute centers on remuneration received by workers in the framework of the management’s efficiency program. The gap between the parties is currently a large one, say sources involved in the talks.”

Sound familiar? “Acrimonious dispute … remuneration … management’s efficiency program”?

[Please note: In our early press releases we proposed the presence of union representatives as directors on the board of each port and terminal. Such a move, we insisted, would automatically eliminate long-standing animosities, generate accord between labor and management, and enrich workers and officials alike. And isn’t that what Avi Edri had in mind when he said, “Certainly if we become shareholders, our mind-set would be different from what it has been up until now” …?]