Train Drivers Call in Sick at Israel Railways in Apparent Work-to-rule Strike

Doctors will be sent to the homes of workers who say they are ill.

Daniel Schmil
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Daniel Schmil

Railway schedules were disrupted throughout Israel Wednesday when more train drivers than usual called in sick, apparently as part of a strike to protest the new work arrangements at Israel Railways.

On Tuesday, the company said train drivers’ schedules would now be computerized rather than listed by hand. This would keep better track of shifts and ensure that shifts are distributed equally.

On Wednesday morning, 33 train drivers failed to come to work, though rail traffic is almost normal for the time being.

Still, trains on the Hod Hasharon-Tel Aviv and Binyamina–Ashkelon lines are running only once per hour. Israel Railways has announced that doctors will be sent to the train drivers’ homes to examine them.

In recent years, the railway workers' union clashed with the company over its intention to privatize certain services in the industry. As part of their struggle, the workers refused to put into service four new engines that were bought from Spain, citing safety concerns. But in March 2012 the union signed an agreement with management.

Israel Railways trains wait in a Lod depot.Credit: Nir Kafri