The Israeli government appears to be struggling to defuse the troubles experienced at a number of the country’s ports, whose workers went on to strike last week to protest against the government’s decision to allow private contractors to be employed at the ports, which workers say threatens their jobs.
The result has been severe disruptions to exports of the country’s pomelos, mangoes, grapes and summerfruit, with some companies seeking out different means of transportation to circumvent the difficulty.
Meir Ben-Artzy of Israeli exporter Mor Group commented: “For our exports to Europe, we are ferrying products to Greece and then trucking them to the rest of Europe. This allows us to keep our customers happy, but it is far more expensive, around double the price of seafreight. Obviously for our exports to the Far East and the US, this way of getting around the problem is not possible.
“Thankfully, this situation has arisen in September, which is one of the least important export months for Israel, with citrus all finished apart from pomelos and no vegetables being exported. If this had happened in December, the situation would have been far more serious.”
According to Mr Ben-Artzy, the government cannot allow the troubles to continue, such is the importance of ports Ashdod and Haifa, not just for agricultural exports to Europe, but also for exports of machines and plastics to the US and the Far East.
“Ashdod and Haifa are completely relied upon,” he said, “so the workers are in a strong position. Hopefully the government will come to a solution at its meeting this Sunday. The current situation is totally unsustainable.”