Labor Court Suspends Dismissal of 20 Arab Railway Workers

Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman: This case is more of a moral test case than a legal one.

The Tel Aviv Labor Court this week suspended the dismissal of several dozen Arab employees of Israel Railways who work at intersections of roads and train tracks. The court issued temporary injunction will be in effect until another decision is made on the matter in 10 days.

Attorney Tawfiq Tibi of Taibeh represents about 20 of the employees who petitioned the court. "This decision is the first stage in the workers' struggle," he said. "There is a normative message about values here, to the effect that a worker must not take irrelevant considerations into account."

Many more workers who were recently fired are expected to join the suit.

Following the publication of the firings in Haaretz, Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman wrote a letter Monday to Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz expressing the fear that the layoffs would constitute a precedent for other government bodies that will close off employment for Arab citizens.

"This case is more of a moral test case than a legal test case," Braverman wrote. "The government of Israel has passed an unambiguous decision and is working within a multi-year plan to integrate Israel's Arab citizens as employees in government ministries in a fair and worthy proportion." Israel Railways' responded to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, that there are a number of requirements of employees, and military training qualified workers better for this position.

Adalah responded that the Israel Railways' response was evasive, and that, "the measure that railway company has taken is liable to constitute a slippery slope that will also serve other bodies in the country."