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 Workers' strike at Ben-Gurion Airport

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Pascal
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PostSubject: Workers' strike at Ben-Gurion Airport   Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:39 am

Israel National News, 3 November 2006 :

Quote :
Chaos at Ben Gurion Airport, Passengers Racing Against Sabbath

Ben Gurion Airport officials are racing against the clock to prevent thousands of passengers from being caught in the terminal on the Sabbath as thousands of suitcases continue to pile up.


Some 500 workers are striking over layoffs of 120 temporary workers, freezing operations and causing chaos in departures and arrivals at the airport. Thousands of travelers have jammed the arrivals hall where non-striking employees have been unable to overcome the workload caused by hundreds of incoming pieces of luggage. Passengers report having to wait as long as 11 hours for their belongings.

The workers defied an order issued Thursday by the Tel Aviv District Labor Court to return to work, refusing to load luggage on to the planes and forcing many planes to depart without their passengers' bags. At midday the workers shut down the main luggage belt which carries the baggage off the planes. More than 24 airliners stood waiting to have boxes and suitcases unloaded by early evening.

Outgoing flights were delayed up to six hours by Friday morning and several left without passengers' luggage.

The strike began Wednesday in response to dismissal notices that were sent to 120 temporary workers. “The management decided, unexpectedly and behind our backs, and despite negotiations, to send the dismissal notices to the workers,” said a member of the labor union.

Talks between the union and airport management have dragged on for two weeks, with little progress seen. “The management is still acting behind our backs, and its purpose is to bypass workers’ contracts and block veteran workers from receiving tenure,” said the unnamed labor official quoted by the Haaretz news service.

Several passengers whose luggage had been delayed due to late connection flights in other cities around the world had yet to receive their bags by Thursday night despite international airline assurances that the bags had indeed been delivered to Ben Gurion Airport.

Airport customer service personnel told those who called to inquire about their belongings that they could not confirm having received the luggage -- even after airline representatives said they received telefax confirmation that the bags had indeed arrived.

One passenger who asked to remain anonymous told Arutz 7 that it had taken two days to reach a customer service representative at the airport, and the worker declined to say whether her bags had been received, “let alone when or if they would be delivered as is usual in such cases.”

Airport Authority Director-General Gabi Ophir had ordered notices of dismissal hearings to be delayed until after the holidays, according to a statement by the management, which said the dismissal hearings were routine. “Each year we match the manpower we have to the amount needed at the airport….. In the past two weeks we have been conducting talks, yet no progress has been made.”

The Airports Authority reportedly called in tenured employees to fill in for the striking temporary workers. It was not clear by late Thursday night when the strike would be over.

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PostSubject: Re: Workers' strike at Ben-Gurion Airport   Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:24 pm

Haaretz, November 4, 2006 :

Quote :
Airport employees may continue to strike despite decision to temporarily resume work

Temporary employees at Ben Gurion International airport may resume their strike despite a decision made on Friday to abide to a National Labor Court instruction calling them to halt their four day strike ahead of a Labor Court hearing slated for Saturday.

On Friday, the temporary employees announced they would come back to work until 19:00 on Saturday, when the hearing was to take place.

On Saturday evening the court will discuss an appeal presented on Friday by the Israel Airports Authority against its staff.

The appeal follows the Tel Aviv court's decision to cancel the temporary restraining order issued against the temporary workers and the union. The decision has allowed the worker's strike to continue.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz has announced that he intends to intervene to put an end to the conflict between the parties.

The strike at Ben Gurion Airport entered its third day on Friday, as workers continued to protest despite an injunction issued by the Tel Aviv District Labor Court ordering them to resume working.

Passengers have been waiting up to nine hours to receive luggage after arriving in Israel, and departures are experiencing long delays as well.

Many passengers spent Thursday night at Ben-Gurion International Airport, waiting for a workers' strike to end and flights to resume.

The strike worsened Thursday afternoon, when airport employees ceased loading luggage onto planes. At approximately 2:30 P.M., the airport's central luggage conveyer belt was turned off.

Some planes departed without passengers' luggage, and dozens of arriving planes were stuck while waiting to have their cargo unloaded.

The strike began on Wednesday to protest plans to lay off 120 temporary airport employees. Roughly 500 temporary workers participated in the strike, despite a back-to-work order.

Israel Airports Authority is calling for passengers that left Ben Gurion Airport without taking their luggage to return and receive their luggage. Information on luggage, arrivals, and departures can be reached by calling 03-975-5555, the airport's information hotline.


Passenger luggage piling up at Ben Gurion airport.

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PostSubject: Re: Workers' strike at Ben-Gurion Airport   Wed Nov 08, 2006 12:20 pm

Gobes, November 5, 2005 :

Quote :
Labor Court: Airport strike illegal
The court also directed the Histadrut to instruct the workers to return immediately to work.


The National Labor Court determined today that the strike by the workers of the Airports Authority was not legal nor approved by the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) and damages the fabric of labor relations in the Airports Authority. The court also directed the Histadrut to instruct the workers to return immediately to work.

The court's decision was reached overnight, after a marathon of sessions which began on Friday and continued on Saturday night. The notice to the Histradrut to order workers to return to work was given on Friday.

The Airports Authority announced that the airport would operate as usual, and that there were several hundred suitcases which remain unclaimed. The Authority calls on the owners of those suitcases to come and collect them.

The National Labor Court determined that the strike was in contravention of the collective agreements and personal contracts, and pointed to the fact that the workers were temporary employees and could therefore be dismissed. It also determined that the Airports Authority did indeed have the authority to dismiss these workers after conducting a hearing for them, from November 15th onward and after reaching agreement with the Histadrut.

Gobes, November 6, 2006 cheers
Quote :
Airport strike cost at least NIS 20m
One of the main factors in the estimated cost of the strike is expenses incurred by airlines that had to pay for accommodation for passengers

The recent strike by temporary workers at Ben Gurion Airport is estimated to have cost the Israel Airports Authority and the airlines at least NIS 20 million.

One of the main factors in the estimated cost of the strike is expenses incurred by airlines that had to pay for accommodation for passengers who had been delayed, and to pay airport charges which sky-rocketed because of the unusually long wait at the airport.

Air Canada general manager for the Mediterranean, Israel and Africa Ruth Ben Tzur explained that while a disruption such as the strike may seem only to be a local annoyance, such disruptions have serious implications for airlines. These include financial losses both for the airlines and the passengers. Each delayed flight can cause losses of tens of thousands of dollars.

Haaretz, November 5, 206 :
Quote :
Airports Authority decision to lay off 120 workers put on hold

Israel Airports Authority on Sunday put on hold its decision to dismiss 120 of its temporary employees after employees facing dismissal staged a debilitating strike last week.

The strike began on Wednesday at the Ben Gurion International Airport. Roughly 500 temporary workers participated in the strike despite a back-to-work order.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and the Chairman of the Histadrut labor federation Ofer Eini met Sunday evening and concluded that they would continue negotiations in the coming weeks in an attempt to resolve the layoff dispute in a way that would be agreeable to all sides.

Mofaz and Eini agreed not to go forward with the staff dismissals until the negotiations are completed.

Mofaz and Eini's decision parallels the National Labor Courts ruling early Sunday to postpone the dismissals until November 15, in order to allow the two sides to "conduct intensive negotiations."

On Thursday, a District Labor Court judge raised a similar suggestion to postpone the layoffs, but was rejected by the International Airports Authority, and the strike continued for another day.

The National Labor Court ruled Sunday morning that the dismissal of the 120 temporary airport workers would have been in accordance with the law and that the behavior of the staff was "a savage and unjustified strike."

The Israel Airports Authority, under the leadership of Director-General Gabi Ofir, began to recruit new temporary employees to man the vacated positions at Ben Gurion International airport in the place of those they plan to let go. This is done in order to prevent the existing employees from gaining seniority. In an official statement, The Israel Airports Authority said, "this is done in order to prepare for the possibility that the temporary workers will walk off the job again."

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