Fired for fighting corruption

By DAN IZENBERG
January 30, 2007 23:19
3 minute read.

 
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Galit Tzur, 39, worked for the Interior Ministry's Tel Aviv District Planning Office for 10 years. Her job was to examine development plans submitted by contractors, developers, and public and private companies to make sure they matched the instructions and constraints handed down by planning authorities. It is a high-pressure job. There are huge sums of money at stake, and the developers are often rich, powerful and influential. Tzur said she always took her work seriously and was scrupulous in her examination of the plans. She first ran into trouble in 2002 over a housing project in B'nai Brak. She told The Jerusalem Post that the head of the ministry's Tel Aviv District demanded that she be transferred to another position for allegedly hindering progress on the approval of the plans. At one point, he allegedly conducted a public tender for her job, even though she had been working in it for two years. The ploy did not work and Tzur remained at her post. She was then put in charge of examining plans for roads being prepared by Netivei Ayalon. Here, too, she got into trouble with the head of the road development company because she allegedly refused to rubber stamp plans that conflicted with decisions of the planning authorities. The director complained to her superiors. They decided to hire an outside consultant over her head, to do the job Tzur was supposed to be doing. She protested loudly, and eventually the consultant was dropped. By now, however, time was running out for Tzur. After management brought in another team to examine the road plans, she asked to be transferred to another project. Her boss allegedly offered her inconsequential jobs. Tzur turned them down, saying she'd rather stay put. But her boss said it was too late for that. Tzur was allegedly told that the office was about to prepare another evaluation of her work. If she refused to move, her superiors would recommend firing her. Tzur went to the State Attorney's Office to ask for protection. The office insisted on more information and she was forced to hire a lawyer to fill out the request form. Eventually, "after much running around," she was given a six-month protection order. She petitioned the High Court of Justice against the State Comptroller's Office and asked for an interim injunction extending the temporary order until the court ruled on her petition. The court turned down the request. A few days later, she was fired. Oded Rubin was employed by the state-owned Infrastructure, Oil and Energy Company for eight years before running afoul of its general manager. According to Rubin, during those eight years, he had received excellent assessments and received an award for excellent work. The trouble began, he said, when he was picked by the workers to be their representative on the company's board of directors. Rubin added that he defeated the general manager's handpicked candidate for the post. Rubin told the Post that on the day of his election, February 19, 2006, he received a phone call from the general manager telling him that "from now on, you will do my bidding." Rubin charged that the general manager expected him to serve as his yes-man on the board, whose job it was to supervise the company's operations. Rubin replied that he would carry out his duties independently and objectively. From that moment on, he said, he became victim of a long series of attacks. The first came during a trip to Eilat, when a close aide of the general manager allegedly warned him that he ought to be afraid because he "talked too much." Rubin said he did not hide the fact that he was under heavy pressure. He complained to the Histadrut labor federation and spoke on a panel on the Knesset television channel. In retaliation, the general manager allegedly initiated a series of disciplinary measures against him. Finally, on July 11, a letter was delivered to his home informing him that he was being summoned to a meeting the following day where he would be fired. On the same day, he was told that the company was going to deduct NIS 9,000 from his pay for improper expenditures. The general manager also allegedly lodged complaints with the police and, in August, demanded that Rubin undergo a psychiatric examination. Rubin is still employed because the state comptroller issued a protection order. But according to his lawyer, Ron Dror, the order hasn't protected him from his employer's assaults and he is paying a heavy emotional price for his principles.

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