Train drivers’ strike causes disruption on the rails
search

Train drivers’ strike causes disruption on the rails

30 trains canceled Thursday after engineers call in sick to protest management decisions

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

People wait to board a train, June 4, 2013. (photo credit: Shay Levy/FLASH90)
People wait to board a train, June 4, 2013. (photo credit: Shay Levy/FLASH90)

An ongoing labor protest by 35 locomotive drivers on Thursday began to cause disruptions in train service throughout Israel.

Israel Railways announced that it would cancel 30 trains, beginning at 3 p.m. Express trains would also make local stops in an attempt to make up for the missing lines, the company said.The cancellations, coming at the end of the workweek in Israel, had the potential to affect thousands of commuters and soldiers heading home for the weekend.

On Tuesday night, 42 employees called in sick, about a fifth of the total driver roll call, leaving the work schedule for the following day with gaping holes and forcing the management to reduce the frequency of some of the trains.

The next day, the Tel Aviv District Labor Court told the Histadrut labor federation to order the drivers back to work, but only seven out of 42 initial strikers showed up, Army Radio reported.

The court reconvened on Thursday morning to review the situation. The Labor Court decided to order the engineers back to work after they all stayed at home for a second day.

The court ruled that the drivers must either return to their duties or report to the Israel Railways’ own clinic by 3 p.m., where a doctor’s examination would confirm if they were really unwell.

Tuesday’s mass call-in was the second of the year, as employees declared a wildcat action to protest new guidelines for the employee work schedule.

The workers’ move was apparently conceived as a response to management’s decision to introduce a new, automated system that would allocate the workers’ shifts instead of having shift supervisors determine the work schedule.

The old system at Israel Railways had allowed supervisors to divvy up shifts unequally, giving their friends more convenient and profitable shifts, management said in explaining the switch to a computerized system.

The company had recently sent a warning letter to all of its workers, according to Ynet, advising them that “serious steps” would be taken against employees caught feigning illness and playing hooky from work.

Yaron Hadari, human resources and logistics director for Israel Railways, wrote in the letter, “It is clear to everyone that this behavior can cause disruptions to the movement of trains and harm to the company’s efforts to add and improve the service given to passengers, as well as damage to the company’s ability to allow workers to take vacations. It goes without saying that we condemn this behavior and expect that such actions will have no part in the accepted norms of behavior among employees and managers.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

For as little as $6 a month, you can help support our independent journalism — and enjoy special benefits and status as a Times of Israel Community member!

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Join our community
read more:
comments