Jerusalem train station 390.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Striking rail workers never intended to harm passengers, the head of Israel
Railways’ employee board said on Wednesday at a special Knesset committee
“We came here in great pain,” Gila Edray told the Knesset
Finance Committee. “We tried to find a solution – we even thought of taking
passengers for free... but we aren’t allowed to do that.”
ended without a definitive decision, but with chairman MK Carmel Shama- Hacohen
calling for no more disruptions to public transportation after Tuesday’s oneday
strike stranded thousands of rail passengers nationwide.
countries in the world, you can’t just stop trains from running,” MK Yisrael
Eichler said. “Even in countries like Romania, where the trains are inefficient,
it isn’t done.”
Edray accused Israel Railways executives of taking
advantage of their workers, whom she said they described as “barbarians and
Asked why she continued the strike even after ordered against
it by the Tel Aviv Labor Court, Edray said the workers had done so of their own
“We even called employees from the courthouse and told them to
return to work,” she said, adding that she had tried to contact Transportation
Minister Yisrael Katz but was refused a meeting.
Yaron Zeft, the rail
carrier’s legal adviser, accused Edray of contempt of court for ignoring the
court order. “The court determined yesterday that the employee board had
violated three court orders one after the other,” he said. “The board prevented
Railways employees from going to work; they even behaved
Footage of the clashes screened Wednesday night on the
evening new programs confirmed his statement.
Edray said she did not
understand why the striking workers had not received more public support. “I
don’t understand why it’s considered contempt of court if there’s a labor
dispute, especially when one has permission from the Histadrut labor federation
to wage a strike,” she told Army Radio.
“The public is with
The one-day strike ended on Tuesday night, but a judge fined Edray
and two other leaders of the employee board for ignoring the court order against
a strike, and for turning up late to their court hearing.
dispute was sparked by Railways executives’ decision earlier this week to
outsource maintenance work to Bombardier – the Canadian conglomerate that
manufactures its train cars – rather than keep the work in-house and provide
low-income employees with additional pay.Globes contributed to this