Egged strike hits Jerusalem area, teacher’s strike averted by courts

Egged’s drivers are claiming that their management had lowered the salary bonuses

January 3, 2017 21:14
3 minute read.

An Egged bus sits in a parking lot . (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Egged’s Jerusalem bus drivers announced Tuesday evening that they will go on a 24-hour warning strike starting on Wednesday at 5 a.m.

The final announcement came after several rounds of negotiations between the drivers and Egged management on Tuesday failed.

The strike will only affect the Jerusalem metropolitan area.

“The warning strike comes as a result of the negotiations between Egged and the Finance Ministry over the subsidies agreement between them. As a result of the failed negotiations, Egged’s management unilaterally hurt the drivers by lowering their salary bonuses by 6.5%,” Histadrut labor federation spokesman Yaniv Levi told The Jerusalem Post.

Egged’s drivers are claiming that their management had lowered the salary bonuses of close to 1,500 chauffeurs operating in the Jerusalem area as a result of the Finance Ministry’s refusal to increase Egged’s state subsidies.

Egged awards salary bonuses to drivers who work beyond their basic quota. These bonuses can range between NIS 1,000 and 1,500 extra per month.

“The negotiations between the State and Egged have been going on for more than year, and despite no final agreement being reached the State increased Egged’s subsidies by more than a million shekels this year. Despite this fact, the level of service offered by Egged in Jerusalem has not been commensurate with the company’s obligation to the State. It is a shame that instead of improving its services Egged chooses to shut down its activity in that area at the public’s expense,” a representative of the Finance Ministry told the Post.

The Histadrut attempted to prevent the strike on Tuesday by bringing together Egged’s chairman Avi Friedman and the representative of the drivers in order to reach an agreement.

After the first meeting ended without a result, Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn persuaded the parties to reconvene in the afternoon.

However, the second meeting also failed and the Histadrut had to announce the strike on Tuesday evening.

The only thing that the Histadrut and both parties agreed to is the shifting of blame toward the Finance Ministry.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the National Labor Court put an end to a planned warning strike by the National Teacher’s Association to close kindergartens, elementary and middle schools until 11 a.m.

The Association announced it would stage the warning strike Monday evening, leaving parents throughout the country to scramble to find suitable alternatives to child care.

The strike was announced against a backdrop of ongoing negotiations between the Association and the ministries of education and finance over problems with pay for educators.

In response, the education and finance ministries called the strike an “aggressive, arbitrary and reckless” decision by the new head of the Association Yaffa Ben-David and filed an injunction, along with the National Parents’ Association, to halt the strike.

Parents were left in suspense on Tuesday morning as the National Labor Court convened at 7 a.m. for a hearing on the issue, ultimately ruling against the teachers and calling on schools to resume classes at 9a.m.

The court said it balanced the damage caused to parents and students with the teachers’ demands and found no justification for the strike.

The Finance Ministry released a statement welcoming the court decision and accused Ben-David of putting “her personal interest of promoting her name and status [as the new head of the association] over those of the parents, teachers and pupils in Israel.”

In response the Teacher’s Association said it would respect the decision of the court though it stressed the importance of its struggle to secure the full pay and benefits entitled to teachers.

The Parents’ Association also issued a statement and said it fully supported the struggle of the teachers though it would not allow them to conduct their efforts at the expense of the parents and pupils.

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