Israel Rail Union in Dispute Over Cabs

Finance Ministry: reimbursements excessive; one worker got back $3,160 for cab fares in one month.

Daniel Bar-On

Yet another state-run monopoly will be joining the list of those declaring labor sanctions: The Israel Railways union on Wednesday decided to stop participating in training sessions and courses to protest the company’s plan to stop reimbursing employees for taxis.

Israel Electric Corp., the seaports and the Israel Airports Authority launched sanctions earlier this week.

As TheMarker reported, Finance Ministry Salaries Director Koby Amsellem sent letters calling some 1,200 railway employees in for hearings over alleged salary discrepancies, after finding that workers are reimbursed for cab expenses totaling thousands of shekels per person per month. This benefit is not part of any collective wage agreement.

The rail firm spent 16 million to 17 million shekels ($4.2 million to $4.5 million) on cabs in 2013, Amsellem noted. That sum is expected to reach 20 million shekels in 2014 and 24 million in 2015.

Railway managers say some 80 workers receive cab reimbursements totaling 4,000 shekels a month or more, while 750 spend 1,000 shekels a month or more. One employee got back 12,000 shekels ($3,160) for cabs in a single month.

The union said in a statement that the ministry was trying to weaken the union. It added that the sanctions don’t affect train service.