Israel’s main labor union declared a strike on Wednesday that caused delays at Ben Gurion airport, and affected banks, hospitals, government offices, trains, the stock exchange, and more, after talks with the government failed to produce an agreement on the status of workers employed through labor contractors.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called the strike unnecessary, saying it could cost the economy billions of shekels if it continues. He accused the Histadrut labor federation of being entrenched in its positions. Steinitz and Eini met on Tuesday in Jerusalem in a bid to reach an agreement over outsourced workers’ conditions – but both said they did not believe a general strike the Histadrut planned for Wednesday could be avoided. Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini said that the length of the strike now depends on the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon.
Ben-Gurion International Airport will be on strike from 6 A.M. to noon. (Airlines have changed their schedules in and out of Israel to minimize inconvenience to travelers.)
Public hospitals and Magen David Adom will operate on Saturday schedules.
Air France cancelled one in two long-distance flights and about 30 percent of medium-haul flights on Tuesday as pilots stepped up protests over government plans to make strikers give two day’s notice before walk-outs, an airline spokeswoman said. Some 25,000 passengers have been notified of cancellations via text message or email and further Air France flights could be delayed or scrapped on both long- and short-haul routes, she said.
The industrial action, which adds to disarray caused by freezing temperatures across Europe, should run until Thursday night and has been widely backed by France’s pilots union. Transport Minister Thierry Mariani has said the government will push through legislation allowing airlines to plan minimum services during a strike rather than finding out on the day that staff have not showed up to work. The legislation, adopted in the lower house of parliament at the end of January, will pass to the Senate in mid-February.