Israel's Histadrut labour federation on Monday announced plans to bring all passenger rail traffic in Israel to a halt starting Tuesday, unless the Israel Railways management agreed to resume negotiations and cancel its decision to suspend a union head and eight other workers, reports Israeli daily Haaretz.
Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini told Israel Radio on Sunday evening that he would do his best to prevent any disruption to train traffic, but added that Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz "got carried away and broke the rules." Eini called on Katz to reverse the procedures against the workers and engage them in a dialogue.
Israel Railways employees and its management have been locked in a bitter conflict over plans to reform the government company for months. On Sunday, the company decided to suspend union chief Gila Edrey, who has been leading the workers' campaign, for allegedly threatening other employees. Two other workers were fired for physically assaulting the company's CEO, while another six were suspended for several months.
Eini criticised the decision on Sunday. "This is a very dangerous step whereby workers taking part in a legitimate labour dispute are called in for disciplinary hearings based on various excuses, and are ultimately even fired. This is a red line as far as labour relations go," he said.
Meanwhile, the Histadrut's Transportation Workers' Union is expected to declare a labour dispute on Monday morning, which would pave the way for port and public transportation workers to strike in two weeks.