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Bus drivers to strike to demand raise, better conditions on Thursday

CM 25/10/2021

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Bus drivers for the Egged Ta’avura, Superbus and Dan South bus companies will strike between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Thursday in protest against their wages and working conditions, the Koach LaOvdim—Democratic Workers’ Organization announced on Monday.
The planned strike will affect public transport users in Netanya, Afula, Ashkelon and areas near Jerusalem, among a number of other areas throughout Israel.
The strike comes two weeks after the group of bus drivers’ unions announced a labor dispute concerning their wages, which currently stand at about NIS 43 per hour. The public bus system is suffering from a shortage of about 4,000 drivers.
In a Facebook post on Monday, the bus drivers’ unions stated that the bus companies had claimed that they didn’t have the money to raise wages and that Transportation Minister Meirav Michaeli had claimed that she was unable to raise their wages as well. “The message is clear: as long as we’re quiet, they don’t count us,” said the union. “There’s no other choice, we’re setting out to strike.”
“Our struggle for driver’s wages is also a struggle for the future of public transport, both for the benefit of passengers and the general public, because without wages there are no drivers, and without drivers there is no [public] transportation,” added the union.

 Bus drivers protest against low wages and bad working conditions in Tel Aviv (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Bus drivers protest against low wages and bad working conditions in Tel Aviv (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Bus drivers have been the victims of a number of violent assaults, especially since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and have demanded to be recognized as public workers in order to receive further protection. Bus drivers also often have their seniority reset every few years, as bus lines often switch hands between companies and seniority is reset every time the drivers’ lines switch hands.
Public workers receive monthly pay instead of hourly pay, don’t lose their seniority as often as bus drivers do, and are further protected by law– those who attack public workers can be punished with up to five years in prison.
The bus drivers’ unions met with Michaeli on Sunday, but the transportation minister only offered NIS 250 million for the training of new drivers. The unions expressed outrage against the lack of action concerning the working conditions of drivers, questioning how the training funds would help as who would want “to work 12 hours a day, suffer beatings without a response from the state (because God forbid we be recognized as public workers), without any horizon – because seniority is reset with every tender and reach 270-280 working hours a month just to survive.”
The drivers have held a number of protests in recent weeks concerning their working conditions, but without much action on the part of the bus companies or the government. Other bus companies have not announced any intention to join the strike.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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