(Globes (Tel Aviv) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 01--The heads of the workers unions at Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE: ICL) in southern Israel met yesterday to discuss the cutbacks that were approved last week by the board of directors, at the center of which is the closure of the magnesium plant in Sdom and the layoffs of workers at Bromine Compounds Ltd.
Magnesium plant workers' committee chairman Avi Ben Shushan, Bromine Compounds workers' committee chairman Avner Ben Senior, and Dead Sea Works, Rotem Amfert, Periclase, and Mifalei Tovala workers' committee heads participated in the emergency meeting. Negev District Histadrut chairman Meir Babioff participated as well.
"We feel betrayed, and that we are being cynically taken advantage of. They treat us like pawns in order to battle government decisions," Ben Shushan said after the meeting. According to Ben Shushan, all the workers' committee heads plan to begin working together in the coming days to apply intense pressure on Knesset members, ministers, and even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, so they will act on their behalf to curb the company's management.
Israel Chemicals' management intends to close the magnesium plant in early 2017, which is when the Sheshinski Committee for the Review of the Policy with Respect to Royalties on Natural Resources recommendations are scheduled to go into effect. The committee's primary recommendation, released in an interim draft report in May, the final version of which is expected to be released in the coming weeks, is that Israel Chemicals should pay 42% tax on excess profits, which will bring the state half a billion shekels a year.
"Even in the hardest years Israel Chemicals had in the past -- they didn't talk about closing plants and closing operations. Israel Chemicals earns a ton, and even if the company claims that the magnesium plant is not profitable, it has tremendous added value for the company in providing essential raw materials for the potash and bromine industries," said Ben Shushan.
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