Minister of Transport Israel Katz today broke his long silence since the start of the wildcat strike at Israel Railways, announcing at a press conference today that he will go ahead with the outsourcing of rolling stock maintenance work - the casus belli of the strike.
"This week, we saw the total breaking of the rules," Katz said. "Not appearing at a court hearing and physically assaulting Israel Railways' CEO completely breaks the rules. This past week, I, of course, fully backed Israel Railways' management and CEO, who did very important work."
Katz continued, "It is my job to tell the public what I intend to do. I want to mention that when there were life-threatening breakdowns on the railways, I announced that if the new safety agreement was not signed, I would shut down the railways, and the safety agreement was signed and the plan was implemented.
"A strike unexpectedly broke out this week. How can a strike that harms the workers be called without warning? Yesterday, I heard the Histadrut chairman announce that he will assume control of the sanctions and disruptions on the railways, and in view of what we saw this week, there is no other way. I ordered management to sign by the end this month the railways outsourcing agreement. I hope that through negotiations, we reach an agreement, but I wish to make it clear - by the end of this month, the agreement will be signed. That is my and government's responsibility to prepare the railways for the task - now."
The Ministry of Finance and Railways management plan to privatize rolling stock maintenance to Canada's Bombardier Inc. (TSX: BBD), and negotiations with the Railways workers committee and the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) have been deadlocked for months. Yesterday, Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini took personal control of the negotiations and the Railways workers committee's actions from its chairwoman Gila Edri.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 16, 2012
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