Train strike ends, judge slaps employee leaders with fine

Heads of railway workers’ boards found in contempt of court for ignoring order to halt stoppage.

Malcha train station empty 390  (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Malcha train station empty 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The national rail strike came to an end Tuesday evening, a day after railway workers staged a work stoppage to protest what they charged was management’s excessive use of outside contractors.
Late Tuesday night, the Tel Aviv District Labor Court handed down fines to leaders of the rail workers board for failing to comply with an injunction to end the strike by 9 a.m. that day.
Israel Railways had requested that National Rail Workers Board chairwoman Gila Edray and her colleagues, Moshe Uliel and Shai Tal, be declared in contempt of court for their noncompliance with the injunction, and for failing to turn up to a scheduled court hearing later Tuesday morning.
Judge Efrat Laxer ordered each to pay fines of NIS 1,000 for each hour they violated the injunctions, which the court issued at 11 p.m. Monday night.
Laxer added that if the violations continued after 6 a.m.
Wednesday, the fines would increase to NIS 2,500 per hour. She also ordered the national rail workers board to pay NIS 15,000 in legal costs.
She said the Transportation Ministry and Histadrut Labor Federation chairman had fixed a meeting for Thursday to discuss the issues surrounding the strike.
“The court expects that dialogue between the parties will take steps to find a positive solution to their problems via negotiations,” she said.
The court convened at 4 p.m. Tuesday over Israel Railways’ request for the contempt- of-court injunction.
Tempers flared during the hearing, in which representatives of the Histadrut, National Rail Workers Board and Israel Railways participated.
At one point, Laxer ordered Edray to leave the courtroom for two minutes to “cool down outside,” after the board chairwoman interrupted the hearing several times.
Edray appeared at court around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, more than two hours after her scheduled testimony.
Ultimately the workers’ committee agreed to respect the court order and return to work.
Also Tuesday, two regular rail passengers filed a massive NIS 364 million class-action lawsuit over a string of seven recent disruptions and delays in rail operations.
“Israel Railways knowingly used unusable, dangerous trains that endangered the lives of hundreds of passengers,” the complainants stated.
“The time has come to put the company in its place and show it that it cannot do whatever it wants, no matter how much suffering it causes its customers, or how much it endangers their lives.”
Jerusalem Post staff and Globes contributed to this report.