IE to public: Prepare for power cuts

Labor Court set to order electric workers back to their jobs.

power station 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
power station 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Regional Labor Court in Haifa was expected on Thursday night to come to a decision ordering Israel Electric employees to resume work at full capacity. On Thursday, IE warned consumers to get ready for possible electricity cuts across the country as worker sanctions reduced its generating capacity to only 6,300 megawatts, barely meeting electricity demand. "If employee sanctions continue, we will not be able to meet full electricity demand," IE CEO Amos Lasker said Thursday. "I call upon the workers to get back to work, instead of sorting out the disagreements between the management and the workers' union on the back of consumers." Thursday morning, IE asked the court for an urgent injunction to halt worker sanctions at a number of power stations. At press time, negotiations at the court were still taking place and a final decision had not been reached. Electricity demand was expected to reach close to 6,300 megawatts Thursday afternoon, which is the reduced power capacity of IE amid the sanctions. If electricity demand surpassed production capacity, Lasker said, the company would have no other choice but to enforce short electricity cuts of about an hour across the country between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to prevent the collapse of the electricity system. IE urged the public to cut back use of heavy energy-consuming appliances such as washing machines, ovens, driers, vacuum cleaners and dishwashers between the peak hours of 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. It advised consumers to prepare emergency lighting devices, batteries and backup for medical instruments in case of possible electricity cuts. Lasker said the union had taken over the generating plants and, in practice, the management of the entire electrical production system. IE staff could not get information on production capacity or on electricity supply to customers, which in turn was preventing the company from meeting demand and causing serious harm to customers, he said. Lasker said the union was blocking the completion of renovations and upgrades at a number of generating plants, which were scheduled to be completed in the spring. A production unit at the Hagit plant has not resumed working, as well as one unit at the Haifa plant, he said. On Wednesday, a second unit at Hagit failed, and two units at the Rabin power plant near Hadera were also out of service due to problems, while a number of other units were either not working or operating at reduced capacity, Lasker said. The IE workers' committee started sanctions in protest over management's unilateral decision to implement a wide-ranging restructuring plan, including a number of organizational measures and streamlining of its workforce over the next two years. The workers committee fears implementation of the plan will lead to the layoff of 2,500 workers.