(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The nation's rail system ground to a halt Monday night, after Israel Railways employees declared an open-ended strike to protest the outsourcing of maintenance services to a foreign company.
The strike, which began at 11 p.m. Monday, comes in response to the rail operator's decision to contract out maintenance work for hundreds of rail cars to Bombardier, the Canadian company that produces the vehicles.
Railway workers complain that the work should be conducted in-house, thereby providing them with much-needed supplemental income.
"The management is leaving maintenance work to those same companies that are responsible for all of the trains' malfunctions over the last two years,"
the railway employees board said in a statement. "It is continuing to refuse to hold negotiations with the employees board and is perpetuating the miserable economic conditions of hundreds of rail employees who have to receive welfare payments due to their low salaries."
Gila Edrey, who heads of the employees board, said, "We can't allow Israel Railways to turn into a bastion of contract work. We have no choice - we have to strike - but it is due to the obtuseness and negligence of the management. We're sorry for the inconvenience suffered by the public, and hope the management comes to understand that its workers are unwilling to let their rights be trampled in the name of monetary gain."Globes contributed to this report.