(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
Three ground crew employees were told they are ineligible to work cargo flights to foreign destinations because they keep Shabbat, El Al Israel Airlines workers union secretary-general Yossi Levy said on Sunday.
The three men complained that their boss had discriminated against them because of their religious practices.
El Al denied the allegation.
According to Levy, the men, heavy machine operators who work for El Al’s maintenance department, said that they were routinely passed up for work on cargo flights to foreign destinations because they didn’t work on Saturdays. The shifts, which provide the opportunity to earn extra pay through overtime wages and travel benefits, are scheduled evenly between all 40 of the department’s employees, apart from the three who complained.
Levy said that when the men approached their boss last week to ask to be scheduled for the special shifts, he told them that as long as they didn’t work on Saturdays they wouldn’t be assigned to the flights.
“I don’t care about the money. I simply believe it’s unthinkable that a Jew in the State of Israel would repeat the same things that were uttered to Jews in Europe before the Holocaust,” Levy said. “I demand that El Al deal with this manager. If he isn’t fired, he should at least go before a disciplinary hearing and be severely reprimanded.”
Levy said that the fact that the workers couldn’t work the shifts that took place on Saturday shouldn’t prevent them from working those that fell in the middle of the week.
“El Al has religious workers in all of its departments and their
observance of Shabbat has never been an issue. I am concerned that if
this passes, we will see similar cases in the future. I have taken the
issue up with the whole managerial hierarchy of the company, including
the CEO and the deputy directors-general of Human resources and
maintenance. So far, no one has responded. They didn’t even call the
workers in to hear their complaint,” Levy said.
EL AL’s spokesman, Ran Rahav, said the complaints of religious discrimination are baseless.
“El AL employs hundreds of people who keep the Sabbath, in all of its
departments. The company respects the Sabbath and there is not a single
worker who suffered from workplace discrimination on any basis,
especially not for issues concerning Shabbat, which is dear to the
company,” Rahav said in a statement.