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Workers Barricade Selves in Israel Mine to Protest Layoffs

Associated Press

About 50 workers barricaded themselves in a failing copper mine in the Negev Desert and threatened to blow themselves up if they are laid off, Israeli army radio reported Friday.

Employees of the Timna mine, 16 miles north of the Red Sea port of Eilat, began their action Thursday. They said they had wired gates to the complex with explosives and demanded a meeting with Trade and Industry Minister Ariel Sharon, the radio said.

Twelve of the miners also locked themselves in an underground room next to a warehouse they said is full of explosives, the radio reported.

On Thursday, mineworkers blocked off the road for several hours with two bulldozers before police cleared them away.

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“Some of the people are hot-headed but I hope to calm them down,” said Shmuel Levy, head of the plant’s union, in a radio interview from the mine.

Israel Chemicals, which owns the mine, said it plans to lay off 25 of the workers. The radio quoted a company official, Yosef Levy, as saying the layoffs were part of the gradual shutdown of the unprofitable operation, a process which has been going on for more than a year.


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