Planned weekend strike at Ben Gurion Airport called off
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Planned weekend strike at Ben Gurion Airport called off

Work stoppage cancelled after finance minister vows to help resolve dispute over taxes that union fears could lead to layoffs

An El Al flight takes off from Ben Gurion International Airport. February 26, 2015. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
An El Al flight takes off from Ben Gurion International Airport. February 26, 2015. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A planned strike by workers at Ben Gurion International Airport over the weekend that threatened to strand tens of thousands thousands of passengers was called off on Thursday.

The Israel Airports Authority said the strike, which had been set to begin on Friday night, was canceled after Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Histadrut Labor Federation head Avi Nissenkorn intervened and were able to convince union chief Pinhas Idan to delay any labor action until efforts are undertaken to reach a compromise to a dispute between the IAA and the Interior Ministry.

In a letter to Idan, Kahlon said the strike would have imposed “unnecessary suffering” on passengers and damaged Israel’s economy.

“I request that [you] prevent unnecessary suffering to airplane passengers over the weekend and the economic damage to the economy,” Kahlon wrote.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, left, and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, center, attend a cabinet meeting. (Amit Shabi/Pool)

The union had threatened to strike over attempts by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to establish a committee allowing local municipalities in the area on which the airport is built to take property taxes from the IAA.

The new taxes could lead to mass layoffs at the airport, the union fears.

Local authority heads have long tried to wrest taxes from the airport, which is located 19 kilometers (12 miles) south of Tel Aviv, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged in writing that this will not happen.

The strike, which was expected to inconvenience some 28,000 passengers on 180 flights, was set to last from Friday evening to Saturday evening.

The IAA had said only a skeleton staff would remain at the airport if the strike went ahead to deal with any unforeseen incidents such as a forced landing or the outbreak of war.

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