Tel Aviv lifeguards stepped up their sanctions over the weekend, abandoning most of their posts along the city’s beaches. Only three lifeguard stations were manned on Friday, and two yesterday.
The sanctions, which are expected to continue in the coming days, are part of an ongoing struggle between lifeguards, the municipality and the Interior Ministry over the lifeguards’ terms of employment. The lifeguards are due to meet today with the municipal workers’ committee, and are expected to declare a labor dispute.
According to Interior Ministry directives, three lifeguards should man a station at all times, of which at least two should have advanced authorization. Since the bathing season opened the Tel Aviv lifeguards have been working according to an agreement signed with lifeguards nationally, under which they are entitled to a day off every week, every fourth Shabbat and a two-hour break every day for relaxation and maintaining fitness.
The municipality says that meeting all these demands would necessitate at least five lifeguards at every post, so that when one is on vacation and another on a break, at least three will be on duty. The city currently employs 48 lifeguards, allowing nine of the city’s 13 lifeguard stations to be manned.
A week and a half ago, the Knesset Interior Affairs and Environment Committee headed by MK Miri Regev (Likud) toured the city’s beaches and criticized the closing of some of the lifeguard stations. The municipality’s protests notwithstanding, the Interior Ministry ordered 11 stations opened last Wednesday.