Baggage Handler, Supporters, Causing Major Delays at Ben Gurion

Ben Gurion, Terminal 1
A departure screen at Ben Gurion International airport. (Flash90)

Delays continued at Ben Gurion Airport Monday morning as staff in all departments moved at a snail’s pace loading and unloading luggage, cleaning planes and maintaining the airport. The workers were protesting the dismissal of 250 workers – who had been hired temporarily to handle the “holiday crush.”

Customers reported waiting hours for their bags to be unloaded from planes, and dozens of flights were delayed overnight Sunday because the planes were not ready. Passengers told Yediot Achronot that supervisors suggested that they go home and come back later in the day to collect their luggage, but for most passengers who do not live within a few minutes of the airport that did not appear to be a practical suggestion.

The Airports Authority had hired about 250 workers in July, August – mostly baggage handlers – on temporary contracts to help out with the anticipated extra traffic during the summer, and the Yamim Nora’im and Sukkos seasons, and in recent days the workers were sent letters of dismissal. Workers have a right to demand a hearing before dismissal, but some ten workers decided not to appear for their hearings, and were subsequently told not to come to work – at which point the labor slowdown began. Most of those workers did not show up for their jobs Sunday night, which further aggravated delays. Airports Authority officials said they did not know when schedules would be returned to normal.