(photo credit: marc israel sellem)
The beleaguered Jerusalem light rail suffered a new blow on Sunday when 20 of the 35 train drivers signed
letters of resignation, due to take effect December 1.
The drivers went
on strike last month to protest salaries they claimed were lower than originally
promised, as well as general terms of employment that were not what they were
led to expect. According to the drivers’ committee, their average salary is NIS
5,000, which they say is NIS 1,000 less than Egged bus drivers.
municipality filed an appeal with the Jerusalem Local Labor Court to force the
workers back to work, which was granted, and the strike ended after two days.
The court instructed the drivers and the light rail operator Connex Israel to
return to negotiations.
Sunday’s mass resignation of drivers comes
following the failure of the two sides to reach an agreement. Representatives of
the drivers’ committee said Sunday that having been forced to return to work by
the court in October, they reentered into negotiations with Connex, but decided
to resign after it became clear to them “Connex was not interested in coming to
an agreement.” A spokesman for Connex told The Jerusalem Post they had not yet
seen the letters of resignation, and further, he found it strange that a number
of drivers would suddenly resign while advanced and promising negotiations were
taking place with the Histadrut labor federation.
In a statement, Connex
said “The operating company of the Jerusalem light rail is on the eve of the
signing a collective agreement with the Histadrut.
The company management
hopes that those involved will not be adversely affected in the negotiations [in
light of their purported resignation], which will make light rail employees the
best remunerated workers within the public transport system in Israel, for both
wages and general terms of employment.”