Firefighters Union declared partial strike day before fatal flood

"I hereby instruct the entire fire department go into Shabbat mode effective immediately, with all that that implies," Ankori wrote the day before the deadly flood. "There will be no exceptions."

Water being removed from the flooded building in southern Tel Aviv (photo credit: MOSHE COHEN/MAARIV)
Water being removed from the flooded building in southern Tel Aviv
(photo credit: MOSHE COHEN/MAARIV)
Firefighters Association Head Avi Ankori delared pre-strike sanctions, placing the Israel Fire and Rescue Services (IFRS) in  "Shabbat mode" after being refused "special employment conditions," Walla News reported on Sunday. The next day, during a rainstorm, Dean Shoshani and Stav Harari drowned in a flooded Tel Aviv elevator.

While in "Shabbat mode," service members do not respond to any non-emergency calls and do not keep the equipment operational. They also do not participate in national drills or exercises.
According to Walla News, Finance Union Head Gil Bar-Tal approached Israel Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner Dedi Simchi last Thursday, demanding "special employment conditions" for the head of the Firefighters Association, threatening that if such conditions were not provided, the union would declare war on the commissioner's office.
Bar-Tal reportedly demanded that the head of the Firefighters Association be paid NIS 170,000 ($48,940) for 50 overtime hours spent on union affairs, would be allowed to work exclusively on the association's affairs on four out of ten shifts and sleep on shift in the association's office.
The union's previous demands were reportedly rejected by the Haifa Labor Court. "You are a worker, just like any other worker, neither better nor worse," the court's Deputy President, Yigal Galam told Ankori. "You come to [your] shifts, do your job, punch [in and punch out]."
"Before being the head of a union you are a government worker, and [you] work for the [IFRS] with all that implies," Galam added. "There is no law that lets a union head not to work or do 80% of his work, or work less than other workers."
"Following Finance Union Local Authorities Workers Department Head, Attorney Oz Goldberg's letter, the harassment of the [Israel Fire and Rescue Services] commissioner and the [attack] on the freedom of association...I hereby instruct the entire fire department to go into Shabbat mode effective immediately, with all that that implies," the head of the association, Ankori, wrote to General Workers Union Head Arnon Bar Daviv and Public Security Minister MK Gilad Erdan.
"There will be no exceptions," Ankori wrote the day before the deadly flood. "The fire prevention department is to go into Shabbat mode as well."
According to a report by the IFRS Commissioner's Office, between noon and 1:30 p.m. (Israel time), the services received thousands of calls, being able to respond to 200 of them. According to the report, the divers came to rescue Shoshani and Harari from the flooded elevator an hour and a half after the building's residents notified police and the IFRS.
This is not the first time sanctions like those Ankori introduced have been brought up, according to Israeli media. According to Walla, since 2013, such sanctions have been declared over 300 times by the Firefighters Association.


Tags court flood