An El Al airliner..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Histadrut labor federation chairman Avi Nissenkorn convened an emergency meeting on Saturday evening, with the goal of ending the El Al pilots salary dispute once and for all, after another escalation in the conflict between management and pilots on Thursday, right before a final agreement was supposed to be signed.
“I intend to bring the representatives of the pilots and management together in order to put an end to this crisis this very night,” said Nissenkorn during a cultural event in Modi’in on Saturday afternoon.
An El Al flight to New York was nearly canceled on Thursday night, while three more flights were chartered by El Al from foreign carriers.
The ongoing issue was the pilots refusal to report for duty unless they were allowed to fly in only one direction, while being paid by El Al to make the return leg as business class passengers.
The cancellation of flight 027 to New York was averted at the last moment due to direct intervention by Nissenkorn.
For more than a week, El Al pilots and management have been negotiating terms for a work agreement that would put an end to the escalation of the pilots’ work-torule strike that caused the last-minute cancellation of more than three dozen flights in the past month.
Twice before – on Sunday night and on Tuesday – El Al management and Nissenkorn optimistically announced the resolution of the work dispute and the end of the strike, saying that all the agreements had been made and that the parties are now in the stage of signing a contract.
“Both sides have already reached understandings on the critical issues, but then made exorbitant demands.
They are obliged to end this crisis; for the good of the passengers this episode must end,” said Nissenkorn on Saturday night, as the emergency meeting went on.
The conditions already agreed upon by the sides include a 7.35% annual salary increase for pilots, and the halt of all “wet charters” (hiring planes from other airlines) by El Al. In return, the pilots would stop flight-splitting and will cut down overnight stays from 44 hours to 27 before flying the return leg, rather than being flown in business class. Additionally, pilots agreed to cut long-distance flight times instead of prolong flights in order to receive bigger flight time bonuses.
Following the first escalation of the conflict, Nissenkorn convened El Al CEO David Maimon and pilot representatives for several rounds of negotiation followed by two short periods of industrial peace. However, this ended on Thursday night due to reasons neither party was willing to specify.