Workers union calls one-day bus strike in Jerusalem

Action comes after Egged transportation company and Finance Ministry fail to reach agreement on subsidy

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Passengers boarding an Egged bus in Jerusalem. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Passengers boarding an Egged bus in Jerusalem. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Histadrut labor federation declared a bus strike in Jerusalem for Wednesday over a wage dispute between workers and management of the Egged company, which operates the buses.

The one-day strike will begin at 5 a.m. and will affect all buses in the capital and the surrounding area.

Recent talks on wages between the company management and workers failed to reach an agreement, prompting the strike action.

According to the Hebrew language Globes website the dispute is over a 6.5 percent cut to the NIS 1,000-1,500 ($258-388) premiums that the capital’s 1,2000 drivers receive on their wages. The premiums come on top of a basic wage of about NIS 7,200 ($1,862) a month.

Management has explained that the changes came as a result of restructuring aimed at maintaining services on lines despite a shortage of an estimated 50-120 drivers for the capital’s buses.

“Egged is on the edge of a precipice,” the Histadrut said in a statement. “It’s untenable that a company with an 80-year tradition is being left to fall apart by way of abandoning its faithful drivers and harming the passenger public.”

In the background to the dispute are delays in reaching an agreement between the government and Egged to renew subsidies it receives.

The Finance Ministry said in a statement that it has tried to help out even though an agreement has not been inked.

“For over a year there have been negotiations between the state and and Egged for an agreement on the subsidy,” the ministry said in a statement. “Even though agreements have not yet been reached, and in order to prevent damage to the regular transportation service, the state increased the payments it transferred to Egged by more than NIS 1 million ($258,000).”

The ministry added that despite receiving the cash, Egged’s service in the capital was “inconsistent with the company’s commitments.”

“The government doesn’t intend to hand out money that the company doesn’t deserve just because of the threat of a strike,” the Finance Ministry said.

The Egged workers committee blamed both the government and management for the labor action, saying in a statement the strike was called because of “Egged management’s behavior, which harms the drivers, and due to negligence by the state in maintaining the security and survival of Egged as an important transportation company in Israel.”

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