Jerusalem labor court averts light rail strike in capital

Judge orders labor union and CityPass to reach salary agreement within 1 week.

November 10, 2015 18:14
2 minute read.
Jerusalem light rail

Jerusalem light rail.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

A planned Tuesday light rail strike was averted at the last minute after the Jerusalem District Labor Court issued an order of stay against 70 rail employees who vowed not to show up for work amid heated salary negotiations.

The order, issued late on Monday, which expires after seven days, also demanded that light-rail employees and the Histadrut labor federation immediately resume negotiations with CityPass, which manages the railway.

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Saying the discrepancies between both parties is not great, and that transportation disruptions caused by the capital’s current terrorism wave already have taken a toll on citizens, the court urged a “last push” of negotiations.

“It is appropriate to give one last push to the negotiations and not create additional difficulties for Jerusalem residents,” the court said in its ruling.

Tuesday’s planned strike comes less than six weeks after a short-lived de facto strike was waged by lightrail employees, who called in sick, over salary negotiations.

Citing failed ongoing negotiations over increased wages, the Histadrut issued a statement on Monday saying 70 light-rail employees would participate in the strike, which would have resulted in major disruptions, if not a complete halt in service.

According to Jerusalem area Histadrut head Danny Bonfil, the strike was called after six months of failed negotiations with CityPass.

“I call on the management to come to its senses and to stop the damages to the workers’ employment terms and their low wages,” Bonfil said.

“These are responsible employees who, so far, have acceded to all requests to refrain from organizational action, in the hope that this would lead to improvement in their employment conditions.”

Bonfil alleged that over the past several years CityPass has not delivered on promised wage increases.

CityPass responded, saying it is “surprised” by the strike, which comes despite “unprecedented” offers of a wage increase for drivers.

“We are in the throes of negotiations with Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissenkorn, in the course of which we made an unprecedented offer of a substantial wage increase for the drivers that even exceeds the hourly rate bus drivers will receive under the new format,” CityPass said.

“This is scandalous behavior by the chairman of the workers committee and the chairman of the Histadrut in Jerusalem, demonstrating complete indifference to the severe and unnecessary damage to the Jerusalem public, and at such a sensitive time in the city,” it added.

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