Shabbat Strike at Ben-Gurion Airport Averted

Airport workers cancel threatened 25-hour shutdown over hiring of contract workers following progress in negotiations with management.

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Passengers at Ben-Gurion Airport after flights to the U.S. were cancelled on July 22, 2014.
Passengers at Ben-Gurion Airport after flights to the U.S. were cancelled on July 22, 2014.Credit: David Bachar

A strike at Ben-Gurion International Airport scheduled for Friday has been called off following progress in negotiations between the airport's workers' committee and its management.

At issue is the employment of contract workers by the airport. Intensive negotiations between the two sides will continue on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, the Israel Airports Authority management convened to discuss the committee’s announcement about the work stoppage during the weekend.

The strike was due to begin at the onset of Shabbat (approximately 7:15 P.M. on Friday) and last until the end of Shabbat (approximately  8:15 P.M. on Saturday).

Some 30,000 passengers on 200 incoming and outgoing flights are scheduled to pass through the airport during that time.

About a month ago a labor dispute was declared on the issue of hiring of contract workers at the IAA. According to the workers’ committee, in recent months hundreds of workers more than what was agreed on have been hired as contract workers, despite the committee’s opposition.

At the same time, the Histadrut labor federation declared a labor dispute at the Airports Authority due to the employment of contract workers.

“It doesn’t make sense that while everyone is talking about eliminating the hiring of contract workers, and the Airports Authority is expanding this exploitative practice,” said workers’ committee chairman Pinhas Idan.

Kobi Zussman, CEO of the International Air Traffic Association-Israel, said in response to the strike threat: “I’m calling on the administration and the workers’ committee to convene immediately and discuss a solution of the problem. It is unacceptable for the State of Israel’s only airport to be closed at such short notice, and it is unacceptable for this entire battle to take place on the backs of tens of thousands of passengers and of course on the backs of the airlines. The threat of the planned strike should be called off immediately.”

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