Israel’s Eilat Port workers at risk of losing jobs due to Red Sea unrest

Half of the workers at Israel’s Eilat Port are in jeopardy of losing their jobs due to a significant financial downturn caused by disruptions in the Red Sea shipping lanes, as highlighted by Israel’s main labour federation, Reuters reported.

This crisis emerged as shipping companies altered their routes to avoid attacks by Houthi militants.

The Histadrut labour federation, which serves as the umbrella organisation for hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, disclosed that port management has proposed laying off half of its 120 employees. Consequently, dock workers are planning a protest for Wednesday. Port officials have not yet responded to these developments.

Eilat Port, mainly involved in handling car imports and potash exports from the Dead Sea, is relatively smaller compared to Israel’s Mediterranean ports in Haifa and Ashdod, which manage the majority of the country’s trade.

Nevertheless, Eilat’s strategic location, neighboring Jordan’s only coastal access point in Aqaba, provides Israel with an eastern gateway that circumvents the need for the Suez Canal.

In December, the CEO of Eilat Port informed Reuters about an 85 per cent decrease in activity following attacks by Houthis in the Red Sea, hinting at possible worker layoffs if the situation persists.

Eyal Yadin, chairman of the transport workers union, criticised the contemplation of mass layoffs, stressing the importance of supporting affected employees and their families during this challenging period.

Israeli officials argue that rerouting ships around Africa’s southern tip to reach the Mediterranean will significantly prolong voyages by two to three weeks, resulting in increased expenses.

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