Israel Railways announced the cancellation of numerous trains scheduled for Thursday starting from 3 pm and going into the evening. More cancelations and delays are expected if some 30 conductors who have called in ‘sick’ do not return to work. Lines with cancellations include Akko-Motzkin-Haifa in both directions, reduced frequency of the Tel Aviv-Beersheba
line, and others.
"We are instructing the locomotive drivers to return to work immediately and forthwith. This is apparently a collective action coordinated and carried out to pressure the other side," a statement issued Thursday by Labor Court
Judge Sigal Davidow Motola said, in a hearing after Israel Railways management demanded of its drivers that they return to work after 30 of them called in sick.
The judge ruled that anyone claiming to be ill must report to the Israel Railways
doctor at the Tel Aviv management offices between the hours of 3 pm to 7 pm Thursday, and act according to the doctor’s instructions.
|Delays on Israel Railways (Video: Moti Kimchi)|
The discussion took place this morning due to the concern that severe disruptions to train service were possible after drivers called in sick and some 80 trains were set to be cancelled. Railways management went to court in order to compel the drivers to return. In response, the labor union
argued that the action was not a group action, and thus the drivers could not be instructed to go back to work. While awaiting the decision of the judge, representatives of the two sides reviewed the list of drivers who had called in sick, and checked which had doctors' notes.
The judge added that the decision was not meant to harm prior agreements between the sides, including the statement that the railway administration will continue intensive dialogue with employee representatives.
Israel Railways VP of Human Resources and Logistics Yaron Hadari said, "There's nothing here that is not covered by the collective agreement. We are working to streamline the train and improve the service. There are certain groups of employees that do not like this."
Thursday's labor court hearing (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
Earlier, a representative for the railway workers, Nika Samhovich, said: "We have no problem that 10 more doctors check our people, because they are truly sick. This is physical collapse. We do not want the citizens of the State to be harmed, but we fell ill due to hours in the field. People will return to work."
Chairman of the Transport Workers Union with the Histadrut Labor Federation, Avi Edri said, "The judge made the right move. The Railway’s doctor will examine the drivers and decide who is ill. I urge the drivers: Go back to work and we will take care of your problem. I call on the Railways: this is not the way."
According to Railways management, drivers were refusing to accept summons to appear in court, and others who had called in sick had been seen at soccer games or vacationing in Eilat.
The Railways management also said that the drivers were upset over changes which would make them work more hours. “A conductor’s schedule is supposed to be eight and a half hours per day, of which they are expected to actually work seven hours. But reports proved they were actually only working three and a half hours, and not more. Our new computerized system will organize this, and cut out unearned pay to employees,’ they said.
The employee union denied these allegations in court and said that the management was sullying the name of the drivers, instead of worrying about the safety of passengers. “The management is throwing sand in the eyes of the public and setting it up against the drivers, in order to hide the failures that could cost human lives."
One of the drivers told Ynet, “The conductors are tired and afraid to drive.”
Hillel Posek contributed to this report
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