Israeli Border Control Agents Petition for Labor Dispute Over Worker Shortage

Lines could get bad at Passover for understaffed border control officers at Ben-Gurion International Airport

Airport employees stand in front of biometric passport machines at Ben-Gurion International Airport, September 28, 2017.
\ Eyal Toueg

The union representing border control agents at Israels ports has asked the Histadrut Labor Federation to declare a labor dispute over a severe personnel shortage.

The union accused the Finance Ministry of not approving desperately needed new positions.

Union chief Shany Shabatov said some 200 new positions must be created, 120 of them at Ben-Gurion International Airport: They havent added any positions since 2010, although passenger traffic has only increased, she said.

Soon it will be Passover, and we wont be able to serve tourists and Israelis if additional positions are not approved for the border control unit. Anyone flying into Ben-Gurion will need to take into account that there will be long lines, Shabatov said.

Many Israelis are already complaining about the long wait at passport control, for both arrivals and departures. I was at Ben-Gurion last week and a month ago, and it was the same story over and over, said Yaakov, a businessman. Only one counter designated for Israelis has a border control officer, while six more are for tourists and the rest are empty. Dozens of Israelis and hundreds of annoyed tourists stood with me, and the states reputation is blackened by this matter.

The Israel Airports Authority has raised the issue recently with the Interior Ministrys Population, Immigration and Border Authority, asking for more courses for border control officers and more positions.

The agency says the Finance Ministry must first approve the additional positions. We are familiar with the severe shortage of border control employees and are addressing dealing with the matter, the border authority said in a response. We are negotiating with the treasury to approve the hiring of workers.

In a statement, the Finance Ministry said the border agency received money for a significant number of additional positions in the draft state budget for 2019, and it will be welcome to allocate them as it sees fit.