(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The capital’s light rail suspended services Wednesday at 6 p.m. due to an
ongoing dispute between the train drivers and the systems operator over pay and
The CityPass consortium, which owns the light rail
told The Jerusalem Post that despite the resignation of “a number of drivers”
they will be operating the light rail from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Monday, 20 light rail drivers submitted their two-weeks’ notice of resignation
because of the failure to reach an agreement on improved working conditions with
Connex, the light rail operator.
By Wednesday, a total of 28 drivers had
resigned but Connex management decided to accept only the resignations of the
four members of the light rail workers committee and another three
In response, the rest of the drivers decided they would not turn
up for work on Thursday unless the drivers whose resignations were accepted were
Yossi Hazan, chairman of the light rail workers committee,
told the Post
that Connex accepted the resignation of the drivers on the
committee as a ploy to circumvent their attempts to gain improved pay and a
collective agreement for all light rail drivers.
“This work is very
complicated, there’s a lot of responsibility and it’s also dangerous,” said
Hazan. “We are demanding pay that is fitting for the job, proper pensions and
other basic rights.”
According to the committee, light rail drivers get
paid NIS 31 an hour, whereas Egged bus drivers receive NIS 37 an hour and have
to work fewer hours at what they say is an easier job.
chairman of the committee, Yair Dahan, apologized to the public for the
cancelation of services but said they were left with no choice because the negotiations had not made any progress.
According to sources within
Connex, the seven drivers whose resignations were accepted had expressed
opposition to a proposed deal between Connex and the Histadrut labor federation
to solve the dispute, while the remaining drivers were willing to accept it. In
the end, they decided not to continue working due to concerns about the reaction
of the committee.
Connex also stated they had submitted a complaint to
the police against the drivers whose resignations had been accepted, claiming
they had threatened the other drivers who had shown up to work.
a lie,” said Hazan. “No one has threatened anyone. Maybe there was some
shouting or swearing but no one was threatened, whatsoever.”
spokesman said negotiations between the Histadrut – which is representing the
drivers – and the rail operator were at an advanced stage and close to being
Said Hazan, “I’ve heard ‘close’ for half a year now, but no
one listens to us in these negotiations.
We are waiting now and we expect
the government and the Jerusalem Municipality to intervene.
“If they care
about this project, which has after all cost them over a billion shekels, then
they need to get involved in the negotiations.”