Israel Electric Accuses Union of Blocking Repairs During Nationwide Storm

Union leader threatened such action two weeks ago, but workers committee on Sunday denied it.

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Cars drive through flooded streets during a storm in Netanya, on October 25, 2015.
Cars drive through flooded streets during a storm in Netanya, on October 25, 2015. Credit: AFP

As Israel was battered by rain storms that caused power outages Sunday, Israel Electric Corporation – the government-owned power monopoly – warned that labor unions may be refusing to make repairs during storms.

The National Labor Court Sunday ordered IEC staff to resume working on an emergency schedule after management said it had “learned that, under instructions from the workers committee, employees have not been working on an emergency basis as is customary during heavy storms.” The court ordered workers to resume working according to emergency protocol.

The court petition comes two weeks after David (Miko) Zarfati, chairman of the IEC workers’ committee, warned the Knesset Economics Committee that workers might refuse to respond in the next big emergency, in order to protest reforms in the power-generation sector.

“If someone thinks that in the next big storm there will be someone to rescue them, they’re wrong,” he said at the time.

Sunday, however, the workers’ committee denied they were preventing repair work. “Company employees have been overwhelmed by the burden created by management failure and the criminal neglect of the government,” it said.

On Sunday there were multiple blackouts across the country from the morning onward, without any expectation that they would be repaired. IEC blamed strong winds and rains that felled trees and cut power cables, mainly in the Sharon area and center of the country. As of 7 P.M. Sunday, Netanya, Ra’anana, Hadera, Kfar Sava, Petah Tikva, Rehovot and Afula reported damage to power lines.

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