Court delays Israel Chemicals layoffs

Strikes continue at several plants

JERUSALEM (Reuters) — The head of Israel's national labour court in Jerusalem on Monday ruled that Israel Chemicals (ICL) would not be allowed to lay off employees at its southern plants as planned, sending the matter to a regional labour court.

ICL, which has exclusive rights to mine minerals from the Dead Sea, seeks to implement an efficiency plan that includes cutting 140 of 900 jobs at its bromine unit and 140 of 1,250 at its primary potash-producing Dead Sea Works.

As a result of the national labour court's decision, discussions on the job cuts that are opposed by ICL's labour unions will continue at a court in the southern city of Beersheba next week.

In the meantime, a strike at two of ICL's plants that started two months ago will continue. The bromine unit has been closed since workers left their posts in February. Employees at the potash plant later joined the strike.

ICL, the world's sixth-biggest potash producer and a maker of speciality chemicals, is controlled by conglomerate Israel Corp.

Although ICL is a private company, layoffs are more complicated since the Israeli government owns a "golden share".

Potash Corp of Saskatchewan holds a 13.85 per cent stake in ICL.

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