A nationwide strike planned for Tuesday by drivers from Israel’s largest bus franchise, Egged, was cancelled after the Tel Aviv District Labor Court ordered the sides to hold intensive negotiations to resolve the outstanding issues.
The strike was originally called to protest the failure to resolve negotiations with the government over subsidies for the company and employees’ work conditions.
After Egged’s management appealed earlier Monday to the Tel Aviv District Labor Court to halt the scheduled strike, the court ordered the immediate resumption of negotiations with a limited frame in order to reach a solution to the ongoing disagreements between the sides.
The Histradut labor federation, which is representing the drivers in its negotiations with the government over wage hikes, said that it would respect the court’s decision, according to Hebrew media reports
During a meeting on Sunday with the chairman of the Egged Secretariat Avi Friedman and the chairman of the Histadrut Avi Nissenkorn, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) threatened to “dismantle” Egged if the strike goes forward.
“If you won’t do what it is required and make the right decisions at the moment, you will disappear,” Hebrew media reports quoted Katz as saying.
Katz is reportedly seeking to introduce a number of changes to Egged’s operations, including switching its structure from that of a cooperative to a corporation, and opening up more bus lines to competitive bidding.
“The goal is efficient transportation on a European level,” Channel 2 quoted him as saying.
According to The Marker business daily, attempts to find a solution to the impasse broke down after Katz proposed transferring the workers’ salaries after a new collective agreement is reached to a new supervised bank account, which would cut out the role of the Histadrut.
While the Histradut rejected Katz’s proposals and said the strike would go forward, Egged leadership responded that it would work to call off the strike, according to Hebrew media reports.
The company reportedly said that it has previously presented to government ministers plans to streamline Egged and undergo changes, while also agreeing to Katz’s demand to separate negotiations over drivers’ contracts from those over subsidies from the Finance Ministry.
Egged drivers last held a strike in November over their employment conditions.