Airport Strike Shrinks After Labor Court Cuts Deal

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Nothing much moving at Ben-Gurion Airport, April 21, 2013.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

The disruption in operations at Ben-Gurion International Airport Sunday morning by airport workers was more limited than had been planned, after a labor court worked out a compromise.

The labor action was called to express solidarity with employees of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, who face layoffs as part of the government’s plan to close the state radio and television agency and replace it with a smaller, leaner organization.

While Israel Airport Authority workers limited their strike action, Interior Ministry workers who handle passport control in and out of the airport staged their own strike, lasting nearly an hour and a half, in sympathy with IBA staff members.

The labor issue at the IBA was defused Sunday when Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon issued orders that in practice defer the planned dismissal of 430 IBA employees. Agreement was reached between the government and the Histadrut labor federation that provides for further negotiations on the scope of the dismissals of workers who will not be rehired by the new agency. A Knesset panel reviewing the bill governing the changes to the state broadcaster approved a revision that removes the immediate layoffs from the draft legislation.

Israel Airports Authority employees had initially planned to halt flights in and out of the airport for two hours Sunday, from 10 A.M. to noon, but settled in court for an order that allowed only office staff to strike for two hours; shift employees stopped working for just half an hour, from 11:30 A.M. to noon.

Word of the compromise came late for airlines that over the weekend already changed their Sunday flight times to take off before either 10 or after 12. The rescheduling led to 46 takeoffs in three hours, from 7 A.M. to 10 A.M.

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