Labor Court Orders Israel Electric Corp. Employees Back to Work

Court orders Finance Ministry to stop simply grabbing back money illegally given to the workers.

The Haifa Regional Labor Court on Monday ordered Israel Electric Corporation employees to halt their labor sanctions and return to work.

Judge Rami Cohen also suspended the Finance Ministry's Wages Department Director Kobi Amsalem's order that would require IEC employees to return improperly granted salary benefits by deducting them from their paychecks.

Cohen issued his ruling even though the IEC employees' union did not petition the court against the Finance Ministry order.

Earlier in the day, the Histadrut labor federation declared a work dispute at the IEC. The official justification for the work dispute was described as a demand by employees for a collective agreement that would enumerate their rights and employment conditions as part of the ongoing discussion on reforms at the state-owned monopoly.

Monday's labor action by IEC managers led to some criticism from Israel's small private electricity sector.

"Yet again, the need to develop competition in the electricity industry and expand the production capacity of private entrepreneurs has been proven," said Itai Eiges, CEO of the Private Power Producers Forum. "Only competition will ensure the continuous supply [of electricity], competition over prices and service quality. The State of Israel and its citizens cannot be subject to the whims of this union or another."

Ofer Vaknin