AN EL AL Boeing 777 aircraft is seen at Ben-Gurion Airport.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The work-to-rule strike orchestrated by El Al’s pilots resumed on Wednesday afternoon causing the cancellation of three flights and a flight delay of more than eight hours. Despite being in the middle of a negotiation, El Al management and pilots had a falling out on Wednesday over allegedly false information the pilots’ committee spread in media.
On Tuesday night, Channel 2 News published a list of terms that the management and pilots have agreed upon in their Monday negotiations round. According to Channel 2 News, terms included a 7.5% pay raise for all El Al pilots, personal bonuses, and end of “wet chartering,” this in return for industrial peace on the side on the pilots.
El Al management, however, claimed this information was false on Wednesday, stating that “the information spread by the pilots’ committee is untrue and it is a shame that this distorted information was deliberately issued with the goal of pressuring the company.”
According to El Al management, no final agreements have been made during the first negotiation session in contrast to what the pilots told the press. Representatives of the management also emphasized that no agreement will be made with the pilots prior to their full obligation to industrial peace and their return to operational routine and piloting flights in both directions.
Since 2014, El Al pilots have engaged in a work dispute with management over a variety of issues. Measures taken by the pilots include their refusal to man flights unless they are allowed to pilot the plane in just one direction, while returning in business class – a practice that increased in the past several months, spreading to the majority of the company’s aviators. Until last week, management begrudgingly accepted the practice in order to keep things running smoothly, but with no resolution in sight, has taken a harder line. In order avoid canceling as few flights as possible, El Al management has taken to chartering out flights – under threat of cancellation due to the strike – to other airliners and crews, a practice referred to as wet chartering.
Following the escalation of the conflict, Chairman of the Histadrut labor federation Avi Nissenkorn convened El Al CEO David Maimon and pilot representatives, including leader of the pilots committee Nir Zuk, in his chambers for negotiations that lasted more than 11 hours.
However, calm has been restored for less than 24 hours, after three long distance flights – to Beijing, Shanghai and Los Angeles – were canceled and a flight to Toronto left after an eight-and-a-half hour delay, and all flights to New York had to be wet chartered.
“Sadly, the pilots, lead by captain Nir Zuk, continue their outrageous behavior which disrupts El Al flights and harms the company and its passengers. Unfortunately, today the strike has even escalated,” stated El Al.