Labor Court orders negotiations, end to railway disruption

Should workers take strike action after the conclusion of the negotiation period, they must give 48 hours' notice to the labor court and railways management.

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April 19, 2019 02:40
2 minute read.
People walk on the platform at Israel's new high-speed rail line station at Ben Gurion International

People walk on the platform at Israel's new high-speed rail line station at Ben Gurion International Airport, in Lod, near Tel Aviv September 25, 2018. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

 
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The Tel Aviv District Labor Court ordered Israel Railways’ warring management and workers’ committee to enter into two months of negotiations on Thursday, signaling at least a temporary end to strike action that has brought disruption to railway services across the country.

“The parties will hold a genuine dialogue, while providing necessary mutual information, including intensive, frequent, relevant and good faith negotiations, plus a view to advancing the resolution of differences regarding open conflicts,” said the court, which will supervise the negotiations.

Strike action will not be permitted until the end of the negotiation period on June 1 or until a settlement has been reached between the parties, the court ruled. Railway management will not be permitted to relocate and fine employees or outsource operations to external companies.

Should workers take strike action after the conclusion of the negotiation period, they must give 48 hours’ notice to the labor court and railways management.

In recent months, disputes over changes to the train drivers working conditions have led to repeated disruption to train services across the country.

Last week, eight traffic managers at the National Railways Command failed to turn up to work, reporting illness, leading to all services being suspended across the country for three hours.


“We are pleased with the decision of the court, which accepted the position of the railways management, whose main concern is to maintain the service provided to the public,” said Israel Railways in a statement. “The railways management calls on the workers’ committee to sit at the negotiating table, to join hands in order to meet the significant challenges facing the company.”

Responding to the court decision, the workers’ committee, headed by Gila Edrei, said it “expects that the railways management to uphold the court’s decision and stop the campaign of slander and lies that it has waged against its employees in recent months.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Transportation Minister Israel Katz both vowed to put an end to strike action affecting the railways and other essential services.

On Sunday, Katz said at the cabinet’s weekly meeting that he would advance his proposal to enact a mandatory arbitration law for essential services, prohibiting strikes in essential services.

“The train must travel,” Netanyahu vowed in a message on social media. “We have laid railroad tracks and there is no justification for a handful of people to stop trains for millions of Israeli citizens and IDF soldiers. That will not happen.”

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