Panel raises quota of local workers on ships

Next transportation reform "won’t leave single place out," says Katz.

A worker sits as a crane unloads containers from a ship at the port of the northern city of Haifa (photo credit: REUTERS)
A worker sits as a crane unloads containers from a ship at the port of the northern city of Haifa
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee approved a directive on Monday that would require all domestic sea vessels to have a certain number of Israelis on the crew.
The panel approved a regulation introduced by Transportation Minister Israel Katz that would require sea vessels that use Israeli ports on a regular basis to have an Israeli captain and at least six Israelis as part of the crew. In ships that don’t use Israeli ports regularly, they would still require an Israeli captain, but only two members of the ship’s crew would need to be Israeli. The regulation is meant to provide more jobs for Israelis aboard ships and reduce the need to use cheap migrant labor.
“This is good news for many Israelis and will increase the options for newly released soldiers,” said Avi Levy, who heads the sailors union, part of the Histadrut labor federation.
The second part of the meeting focused on public transportation, with Katz instructing the ministry’s national authority for public transportation to include all of the country into the next round of transportation reforms “without exceptions,” he said.
“There will not be a single place left out,” saying they will close the gaps in transportation availability for communities in the Galilee with an investment of NIS 25 million.
The overall transportation reform went into effect on January 1 and enabled new subscriptions that integrate various modes of travel and offering reduced prices for daily, weekly and monthly passes in the Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Beersheba metropolitan areas.
Since then, more areas have been added in, such as Kiryat Gat, but complaints abounded that parts of the Negev were left out. Furthermore, Katz expressed his dismay in late January that certain regions over the Green Line and in the Galilee were not included in the plan.
Kulanu MK Eli Alalouf, who heads the committee, said the people who suffer most from lack of public transportation service are the sick and the poor, as well as the Arab population, with MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) saying Arabs don’t take advantage of public transportation simply because there isn’t enough.
MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) told of how an elderly man from Moshav Telamim, near Sderot, couldn’t even get home one Friday because no public transportation was available to reach his home.
“We’ve created a system that goes against the very principles on which our party stands,” she said, with Katz adding that he has seen elderly people taking their grandchildren on the train and visiting Tel Aviv for the first time in their lives.
Gil Yaakov from the transportation NGO 15 Minutes complained that despite the reforms, the public transportation options available still take too long to reach the industrial zones where many work.
Meanwhile, United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler said the areas with largely haredi (ultra-Orthodox) populations continue to be overcrowded, both at bus stops and on the buses themselves.
Tamir Idan, head of the Sdot Negev Regional Council, told the panel that in the past few days, buses have begun servicing the towns in his region six times a day. Shai Hajaj, who heads the Merhavim Regional Council said that until this week, his region did not have public transportation service at all and said that transportation will help bring more people to his region.