El Al dispute edges towards compromise

El Al

The Labor Court sent the parties to conduct marathon talks until Friday.

The Labor Court hearing on the resignation of eight El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) fleet managers ended with the parties being sent to conduct marathon talks until the beginning of the Sabbath. Intensive discussions mediated by the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) will probably start tonight. The pilots have not withdrawn their resignation, which has merely been suspended pending the discussions.

"The pilots' feelings have been hurt; their dignity has been trampled"

Histadrut Transport Division Avi Edri chairman told "Globes" that the Labor Tribunal had not issued restraining orders to the pilots. "We have agreed to negotiation until the Sabbath – the resignation letter will not become effective until then. To the extent that the company believes that there is some risk, or that the company's business is in jeopardy, it is entitled to petition the Labor Tribunal to issue restraining orders. We will enter discussions until it appears that work can be resumed."

Edri added that there were "real grudges" between the parties. "Even the pilots who were at the Tribunal today had visibly hurt feelings, and it is not just a matter of money; it is the way they were treated. Their dignity has been trampled. We are trying to bring the parties closer in every possible way, because after they have been hurt so badly, it is hard to gain their trust."

"The gap is not so wide"

The pilots and El Al's management do not sit in the same room in the discussion; Edri sits separately with each side. At the same time, he emphasized that the gap on the unsolved issues (the number of training sessions on simulators to be conducted by the pilots who turned 65) was "not so wide. It has to be finished, and company's management should be the responsible big sister. It has to realize that enough is enough. El Al cannot be allowed to descend into a state of chaos in which no one knows whether or not flights will take off. This saga must come to an end."

As for concern that the chief pilot will resign, an act that would bring El Al to a complete standstill, Edri said, "You can understand him. In the state we have reached, he cannot manage the fleet. People are angry and wound up. Instead of thinking about flight safety, there are negotiations every day. A pilot cannot fly like that when he is thinking about how they are attacking his work conditions. He has to think only about the flights. El Al does not understand that it must not bring the pilots to a situation in which they are not flying calmly and serenely."

Compromise proposal

Earlier today, Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn proposed a one-month compromise with a temporary salary for pilots over 65. Sources inform "Globes," however, that despite support for Nissenkorn's proposal, which is temporary until a permanent solution is found, from El Al's management, the pilots' committee turned it down.

During the discussion, 737 fleet manager pilot Roni Zohar said, "I want to be released from my job and from management of flights, because the work plan has collapsed. It has nothing to do with the negotiations between the workers and management. I just can't take responsibility for the passengers' safety. I can't work as a fleet manager under the current management."

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on February 15, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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