JERUSALEM, May 3 (Reuters) - Israel Chemicals (ICL) said on Sunday it will close a line that produces a flame-retardant product called FR-1210, saying an workers’ strike had led to customers moving to alternate suppliers.
ICL, the world’s sixth-largest potash producer and a maker of specialty chemicals, has been hit by a strike at two of its plants amid an efficiency plan that includes cutting 140 of 900 jobs at its bromine unit and 140 of 1,250 at its potash-producing Dead Sea Works.
FR-1210, or decabromodiphenyl oxide, is an additive flame retardant.
The bromine unit has been closed since workers left their posts in February. Employees at the potash plant later joined the strike.
“The inability to deliver products to customers is now hurting the credibility of the company and its relationship with customers,” said Anat Tal Ktalav, deputy chief executive at ICL’s industrial products division.
“This is a point of no return when a number of customers leave the company and enter long-term contracts with other producers, leaving us with no long-term customers. In this situation, there is no reason to return to production,” she added.
ICL, which also cited competition from Chinese producers, said that out of 12 workers involved, three will be moved to other facilities while nine will be let go.
It noted that if the strike continues ICL will be forced to close additional operations.
An Israeli labour court is expected to rule soon on whether the strike will be allowed to continue.
Although ICL, controlled by conglomerate Israel Corp , is a private company, layoffs are more complicated since the Israeli government owns a “golden share”.
Potash Corp of Saskatchewan holds a 13.85 percent stake in ICL. (Reporting by Steven Scheer; editing by Jason Neely)