Israeli Court Summons Transportation Minister, Histadrut Leader to Discuss Railway Strike

Court discusses deal signed by Israel Railways that would outsource maintenance of more than 130 new train cars, despite fierce opposition from its workers’ union.

Israel’s Transportation Minister and head of the Histadrut Labor Federation were summoned to the National Labor Court on Monday in order to discuss yet another railway workers strike.

The discussion held at the Tel Aviv court was temporarily put on hold until minister Israel Katz and Histadrut leader Ofer Eini could arrive and take part.

Railway protest - Yael Shanar - February 2012
Yael Shanar

The court discussed the deal signed by Israel Railways on Sunday that would outsource the maintenance of more than 130 new train cars, despite fierce opposition from its workers’ union. Katz previously said that a deal would be signed by the end of the month.

Under Sunday’s deal, Bombardier, the manufacturer of the train cars, will be responsible for the upkeep of 130 cars it has sold to the railways.

Railway workers, who were joined by MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) protested the deal outside the courthouse.

“There is a tendency to slander the railway workers, I am here to stand with them,” said Gilon.

The union, for its part, has launched a series of illegal strikes to protest the deal with Bombardier. It has been negotiating over the issue with Israel Railways management for more than a year and a half.

“The union prevented all progress on the matter, even though the government and the management promised the workers job security and undertook to hire hundreds of new workers under the collective wage agreement. The management even offered workers a 12% raise,” a statement from Israel Railways said.

Earlier Sunday, the Histadrut labor federation petitioned the Tel Aviv District Labor Court, asking it to grant the railway employees permission to strike in the wake of Katz’s announcement on Thursday.

The Histadrut says this is a blatant violation of the government’s commitment last week to reduce use of subcontracted workers.

Read this article in Hebrew