Buses to stop, trains to start as part of strike

Histadrut says strike to extend to Egged, Dan bus lines; union, Finance Ministry officials meet for late night talks.

Demonstration in front of Labor Court 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Demonstration in front of Labor Court 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Egged and Dan buses will not operate Sunday as part of the Histadrut Labor Federation's general strike. Trains will resume operations beginning Sunday at 6 a.m., regardless of whether or not the general strike which began Wednesday continues.
Until now, buses have operated as normal while trains have been halted as part of the strike over the employment status of contract workers.
IDF soldiers will be allowed to ride the trains. Soldiers had previously been barred from using the transportation mode on Sundays from the hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. as part of a new program aimed at reducing the number of passengers on Israel Railways’ busiest day of the week.
The Histadrut’s general strike appears set to continue Sunday morning, depending on the result of late-night talks. Representatives for the Histadrut and the Finance Ministry began meetings Saturday in Jerusalem at 9 p.m. in an effort to reach an agreement.
National Labor Court President Nili Arad ruled late Thursday night that the strike could continue, but ordered that Ben-Gurion Airport and all the country’s ports must operate as usual. In her ruling, Arad said that both sides reported making “real progress” in their negotiations, but added that several differences still needed to be resolved.
Arad said that in the light of the sincere efforts made by both sides, they should continue to work to reach a peaceable end to the conflict. She ordered the two sides to file detailed written arguments to the court by 10 a.m. Sunday if they are unable to reach an agreement before then. At that stage, she said, the court would make a decision on whether or not to issue a fresh injunction to terminate the strike.
The open-ended general strike began Wednesday at 6 a.m., shutting down basic services including government offices, banks, trains and higher education institutions. Arad lifted a three-month injunction on the strike the previous week, saying at the time that there was no choice but to declare that negotiations over the employment status of contract workers had reached a deadlock.
Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini and Yuval Steinitz spent most of Thursday locked in direct discussion, but two stumbling blocks remained. One was Eini’s demand that contract workers whose jobs mirror those of directly employed workers also be transferred into direct employment. The other was Steinitz’s demand that the Histadrut promise not to declare another industrial dispute for at least four years.
Steinitz has apparently already agreed to Eini’s other demands, including the transfer of some cleaning workers to direct employment, and an increase in the minimum wage from NIS 4,100 to NIS 4,500.
Joanna Paraszczuk and Nadav Shemer contributed to this report.