El Al pilots: We haven’t signed a deal ending strike

Until two weeks ago, management begrudgingly accepted flight-splitting in order to keep things running smoothly, but with no resolution in sight, has taken a harder line.

By
November 29, 2016 02:53
2 minute read.
Baggage carts are seen on the tarmac near an El Al Israel Airlines plane at Venice airport

Baggage carts are seen on the tarmac near an El Al Israel Airlines plane at Venice airport. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The meeting held on Monday between representatives of El Al’s pilots and management, meant to finalize a legal agreement to end the workto- rule strike orchestrated by pilots, has failed.

Pilots claimed that the Sunday night agreements were not included in the Monday morning draft.

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“While there were solid agreements made, both sides still haven’t signed anything and are still debating various smaller details and phrasings,” Avi Edri, chairman of the National Transportation Workers Union, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“Currently the disagreements are not over the salary or the principal points, but over small additions made by El Al that were not included in last night’s agreements and the pilots aren’t agreeing to. These are very esoteric issues specific to the pilots.”

The quarreling parties met on Sunday night with Histadrut labor federation chairman Avi Nissenkorn to finalize conditions for ending the strike, that has intensified over the past two weeks and resulted in the cancellation of dozens of flights. Following the meeting, all parties announced that the final agreement would be signed on Monday to finally end the work dispute. However their optimism was premature.

Soon after the meeting began on Monday morning, representatives of the pilots stormed out, claiming that the understandings made last night and witnessed by Nissenkorn and MK Eitan Cabel were not included in the draft handed to them. The pilots later agreed to return to the table under Edri’s mediation.

The negotiations resumed Monday afternoon and are still ongoing.



El Al management claimed that this is yet another attempt by the pilots to improve their bargaining position before signing and agreement. The previous round of negotiations fell apart last week, allegedly due to false information circulating in media regarding the terms reached by both sides. El Al claimed that the pilots deliberately leaked false information in order to force the hand of management.

The general conditions currently agreed by both sides on Sunday included a 7.35% annual salary increase for pilots, and the halt of all “wet charters” by El Al, in which charters are used when an El Al flight is in danger of cancellation. In return, the pilots will stop flight-splitting (flying one way while returning in business class) and will cut overnight stays from 44 to 27 hours before flying the return leg, rather than being flown in business class. Additionally, pilots agreed to cut long distance flight times, as in the past they prolonged flight durations deliberately to receive bigger flight time bonuses to their salary.

Edri confirmed these conditions to The Jerusalem Post. El Al refused to confirm, saying only that “we will only comment once we have a signed legal agreement.”

Since 2014, El Al pilots have engaged in a work dispute with management over a variety of issues.

Until two weeks ago, management begrudgingly accepted flight-splitting 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 flights under threat of cancellation due to the strike to other airlines, a practice referred to as wet chartering.

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