Labor Court condemns rail workers’ strike

Tel Aviv Labor Court orders striking Israel Railways workers to return to work immediately, calls strike “illegal and political.”

September 25, 2011 02:59
1 minute read.
An aerial view of a an Israel Railways train.

An aerial view of a an Israel Railways train.. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The Tel Aviv Labor Court on Friday afternoon ordered striking Israel Railways workers to return to work immediately.

In a strongly worded ruling, Judge Efrat Laxer condemned the strike, which went ahead in spite of a court ruling issued late Thursday night, as “illegal and political.”

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That strike had caused major disruptions to the public, the judge noted.

Workers had planned further disruptions on the Rishon Lezion- Tel Aviv line on Sunday.

The dispute is over Israel Railways’ plans to buy new train cars from Bombardier Inc., and outsource maintenance of those cars to that company.

The Histadrut labor federation and the National Council for Israel Railways Workers, which organized the strike, argued in court that this decision amounts to privatization, will not benefit Israel Railways financially and will only serve to harm employees.

Israel Railways, however, said the decision to outsource was made by the government, and the company cannot enter into negotiations over government policy with workers.

Israel Railways first asked the court to intervene late on Thursday evening, when it became clear that workers planned to disrupt train services with a strike the next day.

Attorney Iris Vardi, on behalf of the National Council of Israel Railway Workers, said during Friday’s hearing that the strike was “not life threatening” and was not a full strike, and suggested that alternative bus services could be run in place of trains.

In condemning the strike as political, Laxer also criticized workers for refusing to enter into dialogue with Israel Railways.

The judge also ordered the Histadrut and the National Council for Israel Railways workers to return to the negotiating table with Israel Railways.

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