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January 28, 13

NEWS / Israeli port workers tamper with birth certificates to retire later

A number of employees working in the Israeli port of Ashdod have their birth certificates amended so as to set a later date of birth, a source at the port familiar with the matter reports. The workers, many of whom are nearing retirement, reportedly do this to continue working in the port in order to receive bonuses and increase their pensions.

Many older port workers were born in Morocco and therefore get their updated birth certificates from Moroccan authorities. They confirm the modification with an Israeli court and the Israeli Interior Ministry before presenting the new vital records to the port’s human resources department, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.

“People know about it,” the source told the daily. “Wheeler-dealers go around the port offering this service. When people get close to 67, they travel to Morocco and get a revised birth certificate, usually downward by three years. They come back to Israel and ask a court to approve the change.”

The source also noted that most of the workers who seek to look younger on paper are part of the company’s operations segment and that the port usually doesn’t file any objections despite the financial ramifications of keeping the employees on payroll.

To address the matter, Ashdod Port released a statement claiming that the practice was not as widespread as it appeared to be.

“Over the last seven years, up to a few months ago, only six workers have asked to have their ages revised, and only in two cases have they been revised,” the statement said.

Ashdod Port CEO Yehoshua Sagis stated that the modification of birth certificates is a new phenomenon. Sagis is believed to be closely linked to Alon Hassan, the chairman of the operations workers who reportedly make up for a majority of age-change cases. It is unclear if this proximity to top management is what allows these workers to change their birth certificates so easily.

The Finance Ministry, which is responsible for Ashdod Port, stated that it had not heard of the practice.

Ashdod is the fifth-largest city of Israel and is located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, approximately between Tel Aviv and the Gaza Strip. Ashdod Port is controlled by the government and employs some 1,300 people. The average annual pay for a port worker was 470,000 Shekels (US$126,000) in 2011, more than three times the national average. Veteran workers, who make up for 40 percent of the port’s workforce, receive the highest wages and have the best working conditions.

The port is considered to have the highest rate of nepotism compared to all other government companies, with many younger workers being related to veteran employees.

Strikes are also a regular occurrence, despite the high wages. Warehouse workers recently went on strike to demand higher wages for working second shifts, causing delays and resulting in losses for the Israeli economy. Their strike ended after the port authority acquiesced to their demands.

Tags: vital records, birth certificat, birth certificate, birth certificates,


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