Labor Court Orders El Al Pilots to Fly

(Moshe Shai/Flash 90)

The Tel Aviv Labor Court intervened in the on-again El Al dispute on Monday, ordering pilots to desist from canceling flights and rebuking them and management for being overly-aggressive, Globes reported.

The strike erupted again last week—over pay for pilots aged 65 to 67, who can no longer fly but are still employed by El Al—disrupting flight schedules and leaving passengers stranded.

The court reprimanded both sides for their behavior, but the pilots got the worst of it for “cynically using absence from work to achieve their collective aims.”

Judge Ofira Dagan-Tuchmacher also asked El Al’s management for more data on the flight cancellations, to be submitted by February 9. The document is to include details on the calls made to pilots El Al claims refused to come to work, forcing cancellations. The next hearing has been scheduled for February 22.& The pilots union accuses the airline of calling off flights unnecessarily, and unfairly blaming it on them.

It was not clear how effective the court order will be. El Al pilots committee representative Nir Zuk said that he will not fly if he does not feel up to it.

“I can’t ask people to fly. We hoped that the Labor Court would make a ruling that would help us make progress. The argument begins before the money. Management is telling people, ‘You’re not pilots.’ I don’t think that the Labor Tribunal should issue an order, because if I have to fly 199 passengers tonight, and I feel unfit, I won’t fly. We’re constantly negotiating. If the salary doesn’t change and remains the way management has set it, nothing is going to change.” Another pilot present at the hearing noted that “the law forbids pilots to fly under mental stress.”

El Al’s lawyer rejected the pilots’ argument: “The other side should go back to regular work instead of dissembling. All of a sudden we hear that if the salary is paid, the pilots will be motivated, so organizational control exists. Right now, there are flights with no one to fly them. A flight postponed yesterday is scheduled to leave at noon. All of this behavior emerged all at once as a result of and in response to this thing, and that is no accident. We are therefore asking that the orders we requested be issued, and urgently.”

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