Haifa Port Workers Strike Over Plan to Sell Government Companies

Workers at Israel’s Haifa port began a wildcat strike today in protest over plans announced yesterday to sell all or part of several government-owned companies, including those that manage the ports.

“The workers were angered over the privatization plan and decided to walk out,” said Yaniv Levy, spokesman for the Histadrut labor federation. Talks are under way to enable the port employees to resume work, Levy said by phone.

The Finance Ministry announced yesterday a multi-year program to sell stakes in several government-owned companies, including the postal service, Israel Military Industries Ltd. and Israel Electric Corp. The government expects to eventually earn about 15 billion shekels ($4 billion) from the sales, the ministry said.

Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, a former Histadrut chairman, urged the government to reconsider the plan.

“Now is the time to have a broader discussion with the public on the idea of privatization, which needs to be approached with greater caution.” Peretz said today on Israel Radio.

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