Israel Railways Workers Prepare to Halt All Train Traffic in Tuesday Strike

As labor conflict over planned reforms continues, train workers plan to bring all traffic to a halt starting Tuesday; port and other public transportation workers declare labor dispute.

The Histadrut labor federation on Monday announced plans to bring all passenger rail traffic in Israel to a halt starting Tuesday, unless Israel Railways' management agrees to return to the negotiating table and cancel its decision to suspend a union head and eight other workers.

Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini told Israel Radio on Sunday evening that he would do his best to prevent any disruption to train traffic, but added that Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz "got carried away and broke the rules." Eini called on Katz to reverse the procedures against the workers and engage them in a dialogue.

Train protest - Milrod - 26.3.12
Moti Milrod

Israel Railways' employees and management have been locked in a bitter conflict over plans to reform the government company for months. On Sunday, the company decided to suspend union chief Gila Edrey, who has been leading the workers' campaign, for allegedly threatening other employees. Two other workers were fired for physically assaulting the company's CEO, while another six were suspended for several months.

Histadrut chief Ofer Eini criticized the decision on Sunday. "This is a very dangerous step whereby workers taking part in a legitimate labor dispute are called in for disciplinary hearings based on various excuses, and are ultimately even fired. This is a red line as far as labor relations go," he said.

Meanwhile, the Histadrut's Transportation Workers' Union is expected to declare a labor dispute on Monday monring, which would pave the way for port and public transportation workers to strike in two weeks.