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Strike ends in victory for Israeli chemical workers

3 June, 2015Israeli trade union, Histadrut, has succeeded in saving hundreds of chemical workers’ jobs in an agreement reached on 28 May, bringing an end to a four-month-long strike.

Around 2,000 workers went on strike on 2 February 2015 after Israel Chemicals Limited (ICL) threatened to lay off hundreds of employees at its Dead Sea Works and Bromine Compounds factories in the south of Israel.

In the new deal, reached between ICL, Histadrut and employees’ committees at both factories, only 38 workers (19 from each factory) will be laid off. However, they have until the end of the year to prove themselves, when their future employment will be considered. All of the laid-off workers will receive severance pay of 300 per cent.

ICL employs 4,500 workers in Israel, of which 3,500 are based in the south of the country. A further 25,000 workers are dependent on ICL for business.

The victory will protect the workers and economy of the south of Israel, where unemployment rates are high and job opportunities low, says Histadrut Chairman, Avi Nissenkorn:

“We are returning 2,000 people to work, the South wins…No worker has been laid off at this stage.”

Approximately 100 workers from both factories will be forced to retire, in addition to 100 employees that have retired in recent months. Histadrut has been able to secure a greatly improved conditions package for the retirees.

Chairman of the Dead Sea Works Employees' committee, Armond Lankri, said: "This was one of the most significant battles…Thankfully, the whole country supported us. I'm glad we finished a difficult period and we succeeded in maintaining the status and rights of the workers.”

Chairman of the Bromine Compounds employees' committee, Avner Ben-Senior, said: "We struggled not for money and improved conditions, but a struggle of principle that a profitable company doesn't fire workers, first and foremost!”