Haifa Chemicals has been blocked – temporarily, at least – from laying off employees at its plant in northern Israel.
The company announced last Tuesday it would issue layoff letters to all of its factory workers in northern Israel, which it subsequently did, giving notice of a pre-layoff hearing set for Sunday, August 27. This followed a government decision to close the company’s massive ammonia tank in Haifa Bay, and a decision by Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav not to accept a compromise plan that would have allowed the ammonia to be imported in smaller amounts.
The Haifa Labor Court on Sunday instead ordered the company’s management to refrain from taking any steps towards layoffs until the court held a hearing on the summons to a pre-layoff hearing the firm had issued.
Judge Alexander Kogan ordered management to appear before the court for a hearing on Tuesday, in response to a petition by Koach L’Ovdim, the group representing the employees at the plant in northern Israel, together with attorneys Eli Nidam and Sigal Pail.
“Management, which refused to find solutions to the ammonia crisis for four years, is determined to do damage to the workers in the north,” Koach L’Ovdim stated in its petition, according to Globes.
Haifa Chemicals responded in a statement, saying, “After five months in which …[the company] was shut down and had no revenue, but scrupulously paid salaries to its employees, the government decided on a solution for supplying ammonia to the fertilizer industry described by experts and defense agencies as extremely safe.
“Despite the government’s decision, Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav decided to prevent the government and the industry from implementing the solution, and refused to grant a business license for a pipe to carry the ammonia from the ship to the factory, without any professional grounds, and against 400 workers….
“Management understands the workers, but has been left with no choice. The layoffs were not a result of fate. We regret that things have come to such a pass that Koach L’Ovdim is not directing its struggle against [Mayor] Yahav, the only person able to save their jobs.”