March 30: Striking back

Our government could replace all union workers by non-union people to run the railways and power stations.

Striking back
Sir, – I have just read “Strike averted as Railways, Histadrut, Transportation Ministry reach deal” (March 28). To say I was appalled would be an understatement.
The ministry would appear to have given in to total blackmail. A 25 percent pay rise, not being able to dismiss staff until 2030 and partial outsourcing of maintenance seems to indicate that management has no control over the company whatsoever.
We seem to have the same problem at the Israel Electric Corporation.
Perhaps our government should apply the wisdom of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Reagan, when faced with a major problem over air traffic control, sacked all the workers and put in place his own non-union personnel. Thatcher solved the union problem by first stocking up fuel reserves at power stations so that they would be able to operate for at least 12 months; eventually, coal miners were forced to concede.
Our government could replace all union workers by non-union people to run the railways and power stations. I am sure there are enough qualified people.
The other possibility is that we, the suffering general public, should hold a general strike of our own (never mind just cottage cheese). All we have to do is stock up on enough provisions and not pay for utilities until we get what we want. I believe we would be able to drive a hard bargain with those who are making excessive demands on our pockets, including the various cartels.
BOB GOLD Jerusalem
IEC not to blame
Sir, – Regarding “Lights out at the Israel Electric Corporation” (Comment & Features, March 27), the IEC is owned solely by the government. It should have invested funds to meet heavy outlays on equipment needed to meet the ever-growing demand for electricity, or it should have sold shares.
Instead, the IEC was set upon to take the loans itself; this is the reason for its heavy debt and downgrading by financial institutions. More than 13 percent of the cost of electricity is for servicing these loans.
Because natural gas is not available, some generating units are forced to operate on #2 fuel. This fuel is not as efficient and is much more expensive. Absurdly, the high price is because the Treasury has a weighty tax on it. This is, in effect, double-dipping because the Treasury receives 16% VAT on electricity prices.
It must be realized that fuel usually represents 55% of the cost of producing electricity; in the present situation it is no doubt higher.
In the 1970s there was the popular idea that electric utilities could be broken down into many units that would compete and thus reduce costs. This was a failure and in most cases raised prices.
IEC employees involved in generation, transmission and distribution are on duty day and night. The cost of their employment is some 10% of the cost of production. The average monthly IEC salary was once estimated at NIS 15,000; the very few who receive NIS 50,000 run investments worth many billions of dollars. This is not the factor that explains why there is an increase in electricity bills.
The writer worked closely with the IEC for more than 45 years as a representative of major international manufacturers.
In “Senior Jewish Agency official resigns” (News in Brief, March 29), JAFI spokesman Haviv Rettig Gur said that departing CFO Yaron Neudorfer had “faced” problems during his tenure and dealt with them admirably, and not that Neudorfer had “caused” these problems, as the reporter mistakenly wrote.
The Jerusalem Post apologizes for any alterations made to Shai Danot’s “Social justice and electricity” (Comment & Features, March 27) that inadvertently changed the writer’s intended meaning.