Striking road test examiners got some moral support from attorney Gilad Barne’a, who filed a petition with the High Court on Tuesday against the tender issued two months ago by the Transport Ministry to outsource driving tests to private teachers. The move, according to the petition, is “part of the illegitimate attempt by the government to outsource all activities to the private sector in a manner that is not legal, and not in the public interest.” The Transportation Ministry and its head, Yisrael Katz, the petition said, “is acting in an unreasonable manner. This action has not been sanctioned by legislation, and not even by a government decision.”
Driving examiners are now into the eighth week of their strike. The strike began on March 20, as examiners demanded that the government halt its plan to outsource the tests to private driving school teachers. As a result, some 40,000 road tests have been cancelled, resulting in extensive delays for students who are getting their first license, and creating a shortage of commercial vehicle drivers – since new drivers cannot get their licenses and replace drivers who are retiring at bus and trucking companies.
In a petition of its own to the court, the Transport Ministry said that the examiners were “holding the entire country hostage, including young people and soldiers, only in order to maintain their monopoly. They started a wildcat strike to force the Ministry to back off reforms which will significantly improve service for the public, and significantly reduce the amount of time that prospective drivers must wait.”
At a hearing Sunday, the government demanded that the court issue an injunction requiring the examiners to go back to work for at least 50 days in order to clear up some of the backlog while a compromise is worked out – but the court refused to do so, saying it wanted to see the outline of such a compromise first.
A report in The Marker said that at least 16 private enterprises have or will bid on the contract to manage the driving tests, in the tender which closes June 15th. The current plan is that two of those will be chosen to operate the testing service.