On Tuesday, February 10, workers at the Israel Chemicals (ICL) Bromine Compound in the Negev demonstrated against the announced intention to fire 140 members of the staff at their plant. They were joined outside the corporation’s headquarters in Be’er-Sheba by employees from the Dead Sea Works, also owned by the privatized Israel Chemicals, who are themselves also currently in the midst of negotiations with management in the hopes of preventing a massive wave of layoffs there.
At Tuesday’s demonstration, Avner Ben Senyor, head of the Bromine Compounds union, defiantly said: “This is a fight for our home. We will not let them fire anyone. We’re not against increased efficiency. We’re for it and wherever we can, we will make changes. But that doesn’t mean cutting workers. This is not just about this factory. There are thousands of people making a living from all of these factories,” referring to Israel Chemicals’ complex of factories in the southern part of Israel.
Workers claim that the corporation is being greedy, citing a new report regarding the state of its finances, which claims that ICL’s profits are high, and that the bromine industry is still lucrative. They say that the report also notes that both dividends paid to stockholders and the pay of the CEO have shot up. On Wednesday, February 11, workers at Zim Shipping, also owned and controlled by Idan Ofer, head of Israel Chemicals, went out on a partial strike in solidarity with their colleagues from the ICL Bromine Compounds subsidiary. They were followed on Thursday, February 12 by workers conducting solidarity slowdowns in a number of plants, all in the Haifa Bay area, also owned and controlled by Israel Chemicals: the Oil Refineries, Carmel Olefins, ICL Fertilizers, and the corporations Research Institute. These sanctions are scheduled to continue on Sunday, February 15.