Striking road test examiners have convinced workers at Israel’s licensing bureaus to join their work action, and starting Monday, the bureaus that process and issue licenses to drivers of both private and commercial vehicles will be conducting business “erratically,” spokesperson for the union representing workers said. This means that a bureau could open and close at any time. In addition, one of the 15 bureaus in the country will be completely closed each day; the closure will not be announced in advance either.
Calling up for hours is unlikely to help, as the decision to shut down an operating licensing bureau could be made spontaneously, the official said.
The work action is being conducted in support of the road test examiners, who have been protesting the Transport Ministry’s intention to authorize private companies to test drivers for their readiness for the road. Several weeks ago, the Ministry advertised a tender to license private groups to test prospective drivers on their on-road skills. The tests would be given by driving school teachers, with whom prospective drivers already work. To get a license, students must take a minimum number of lessons (between 3 and 19, depending on age and background), and the Ministry wants to grant the teachers who give those lessons the ability to test students as well.
The current Ministry-employed examiners see this as a back-door attempt to replace them with private-sector service providers. Speaking to business daily Globes, Bernard Grossman, chairperson of the testers’ union, said that if the issue was efficiency, “then why has the Ministry turned down our ideas for streamlining things. Even so, the Ministry released its tender. We will not stand by silently and watch as the Ministry destroys Israel’s safe driving culture,” allowing private groups to compete in order to serve students more cheaply, he said. “Our work actions will continue without compromise until this idea is taken off the agenda.”
In a statement, the Ministry said that the workers – both the examiners, and now licensing bureau workers – were acting in a very selfish manner. “100 examiners are holding hundreds of thousands of young people and soldiers hostage and ruining the efforts that are being made to reduce the length of lines and waiting times, all in the interests of preserving their monopoly.”