Airport workers unload luggage despite ongoing strike

Planes allowed to depart for Ukraine to bring back Breslav Hassidim on pilgrimage to Rabbi Nachman's tomb; negotiations to end strike continue.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
September 13, 2010 10:53
2 minute read.
Airport workers unload luggage despite ongoing strike

ben gurion airport298 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Ben Gurion Airport employees decided to unload luggage from all of the airplanes that landed on Monday despite continuing a general strike.

In addition, airplanes that were scheduled to fly to Uman in Ukraine to bring back Bresalv Hassidim pilgrims will be allowed to depart.

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The sides are continuing to negotiate in the hopes of reaching a deal on the issue of the workers' pensions.

Negotiations between representatives of Ben Gurion Airport employees and management failed earlier on Monday and the airport workers announced a general strike, effective immediately.

Israel Aviation Authority workers are requesting that management give them assurances that money saved for their pension funds will not be used for any other purposes.

Hundreds of Breslav Hassidim returning to Israel from Ukraine caused upheaval at the airport when they could not get their luggage because of the strike .

The Hassidim, returning from a pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nahman of Breslav in the Ukranian city of Uman, yelled, played drums and sang. Some of them caused damage to the baggage claim conveyor belt.

Police were called to the scene, but no arrests were reported.

The airport employees originally planned to strike on Thursday, but were persuaded by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz not to strike in order to prevent the delay of Israelis coming home for Rosh Hashana.

Negotiations between the two sides began on Sunday and continued on Monday morning. The talks stalled at approximately 9 a.m., and the workers immediately began their strike.

Airplanes en route to Israel will be allowed to land at the airport, but baggage will not be unloaded from the planes while the strike continues.  No planes will depart Ben Gurion Airport during the work stoppage.

Ben Gurion Employees' Committee chairman Pinchas Edan on Monday stated that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is the only one capable of solving the problem, Israel Radio reported.

“We will not stand by and see workers’ money put at risk," Edan said prior to the strike. "We have been trying to reach an agreement for two years, but the authority’s management keeps on dragging its feet and jeopardizing the workers’ pension funds,”  he added.

“We demand that the issue of the pensions be resolved and that their money be protected and earmarked exclusively for the purpose of pension payments and will do everything in our power to assure it."

Ron Friedman contributed to this report


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