Public sector likely to strike today over mass dismissals of IBA workers

Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn declared a labor dispute two weeks ago over the manner in which IBA employees were being treated by the Finance and Communications ministries.

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August 30, 2015 00:32
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Histadrut protest [File]. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Histadrut labor federation is likely to call for a strike in the public sector on Sunday in response to the dismissals anticipated over the next month of at least 500 employees of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn declared a labor dispute two weeks ago over the manner in which IBA employees were being treated by the Finance and Communications ministries.

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Amendments to the Public Broadcasting Law are scheduled to be announced on Sunday, in preparation for the second and third (final) Knesset readings of legislation to close the IBA on March 31, 2016. Of the 1,580 IBA employees, it is anticipated that at least 500 staffers will receive dismissal notices in the first week of September, and the others will gradually be let go.

In protest, IBA employees and their families assembled in the IBA studios in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Friday night to usher in the Sabbath, and afterwards declared a sit-in.

The employees are also protesting the fact that the amendments to the law call for a 10 percent cut in the salaries budget for the IBA’s remaining half year of operation.

The Airport Authorities Union has announced that, to show solidarity with IBA employees, there will be no flights between 10 a.m. and 12 noon on Sunday.

In response to the strike announcements, the Israel Airports Authority management turned on Saturday night to the National Labor Court, demanding that it cancel the strike to prevent harm to passengers.

As a result of the planned strike, however, the authority said that most companies with flights scheduled for the hours in question have been able to move them to earlier time slots. Because 18 flights were scheduled during those two hours, the authority warned of “exceptional congestion” likely to occur early Sunday morning, with 46 landings over the course of three hours.

“[Sunday] will be a day of 70,000 passengers,” the Israel Airports Authority said.

“We call upon the public to stay updated through the airlines and through the IAA website.”

Union chairman Pinchas Idan declared that it was untenable that the government should be able to unilaterally and through legislation eliminate public broadcasting and fire more than 1,500 employees. “It’s a black day for everyone involved in labor relations,” he said.

Idan echoed much of what the IBA journalists and their colleagues from other media had stated at an emergency meeting in Tel Aviv last Wednesday. “The implementation of reforms is possible. Rehabilitation is possible, and amendments are possible – but through negotiations.”

He called on unions throughout the country to demonstrate solidarity with the workers of the IBA and to join in the struggle that is being led by the Histadrut. He urged that the law for the dissolution of the IBA and the establishment of a new public broadcasting service be canceled and that negotiations for reforms begin immediately. “Today it’s the IBA,” he cautioned. “Tomorrow it will be the rest of us.”

On Saturday night, IBA employees and their children bearing blue and white placards and singing “We will not stop broadcasting” to the tune of the Six Day War song “We Will Not Stop Singing” demonstrated outside the entrance to the IBA television studios in Jerusalem.

Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.


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