Jerusalem light rail.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Following months of heated negotiations over salaries and working conditions, a collective agreement was signed Thursday between CityPass and the Histadrut labor federation representing Jerusalem’s light rail workers.
The agreement – which will raise the salaries of most tram operators by 21.5 percent, to NIS 44 an hour through 2019 – comes one week after Light Rail workers threatened a second strike in two months.
A planned November 10 strike was averted when a Jerusalem District Labor Court judge issued a seven-day order of stay against 70 employees who vowed not to show up for work unless their demands were met. The order demanded that both sides immediately resume negotiations.
Stating that discrepancies between the parties were small and that transportation disruptions caused by the terrorism wave already have taken a toll on citizens, the judge urged a “last push” of negotiations.
This month’s planned strike came less than six weeks after a short-lived de facto strike was waged by light rail employees who called in sick. Jerusalem Histadrut head Danny Bonfil said the strikes were called after six months of failed negotiations.
In a joint statement on Thursday, CityPass and Histadrut praised the agreement as “groundbreaking.”
“The agreement brings good news to tram employees, giving them the best salaries in the field of public transportation in the country,” said Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissenkorn.
“I am proud of the result and congratulate all parties, led by Jerusalem Histadrut chairman Bonfil.”
Bonfil praised the deal and those who made it possible.
“I want to thank Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn, who helped us reach an agreement, and Jerusalem District legal advisor Orna Cohen, who worked tirelessly,” he said.
Despite past misgivings, Bonfil cited the light rail as a model of coexistence. “It is important to note in light [of the recent terrorism] that the Light Rail is an exemplary workplace where both Jews and Arabs are engaged side by side in peace and on good terms, and receive equal treatment and conditions without any reservations.”
Noting the intensity of the protracted negotiations, Light Rail CEO Eran Shechtman lauded the final agreement as equitable.
“The agreement maintains the highest wages for Light Rail workers, allows us to continue to employ the best employees, and enables us to provide efficient, safe and high-quality advanced mass transit,” said Shechtman.