Train Drivers Call in Sick, Railways Sending Doctors


An unusually high number of train drivers called in sick to Israel Railways on Wednesday in what appeared to be a protest against new work arrangements, Haaretz reported.

The sick calls slightly disrupted train schedules. On Wednesday morning, 33 train drivers failed to come to work, though rail traffic was reported running close to normal.

Disruption on the Hod Hasharon-Tel Aviv and Binyamina–Ashkelon lines were noted, with trains departing only once per hour.

Israel Railways has announced that doctors will be sent to the drivers’ homes to examine them.

On Tuesday, the company announced the computerization of train drivers’ schedules, replacing the old hand-written system. This, it said, enable management to keep better track of shifts and ensure that work is distributed equally.

In recent years, the railway workers’ union clashed with the company over its intention to privatize certain services in the industry. As part of their struggle, the workers refused to put into service four new engines that were bought from Spain, citing safety concerns. But in March 2012 the union signed an agreement with management.