A wildcat strike of train drivers disrupted rush hour traffic on the Israel Railways on Wednesday, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Many trains were canceled, as 41 train drivers called in sick, Israel Railways said.
The drivers gave notice of a work action earlier in the day, provoking a warning of a punitive response from management: “We will take disciplinary measures against the strikers,” adding that “in the past few days, we’ve seen a greater than usual number of absenteeism by employees seen vacationing.”
Sources at Israel Railways said that the train drivers’ actions were apparently over changes in their job conditions. Over the past week, the train drivers have been protesting an increase in their work hours, but management has not relented, Globes reported.
Despite the claims of illness, Army Radio reported that some of the drivers had been seen by the company management playing football. The management issued letters to the employees urging them to return to work, the spokesman said, and also sent doctors to the homes of the train drivers who called in sick to verify their claims.
The Israel Railways workers committee insisted they were not just playing sick.
“This is not an industrial action. We’re seeing the real collapse of the train drivers. They are collapsing under the workload. Instead of investigating and monitoring the drivers, management should examine itself by allowing a driver who carries thousands of passengers to work such long hours, sometimes nine or 12 hours, without rest. This is real negligence and contempt of passengers’ lives. Drivers are afraid to drive.”