On Sunday morning, it was expected that there would be huge disruptions in traffic on the streets of Israel. This was because hundreds of bus drivers decided to go on strike, as they have been protesting for better working conditions.
Strike During Rush Hour
The union for the bus drivers warned that it would be the biggest strike of bus drivers to occur in Israel. Drivers from multiple companies planned to strike during rush hour from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Sunday, which marks the beginning of the work week. Some of the companies whose drivers participated in the strike included Beit Shemesh Express, Tnufah, Extra, Dan Beersheba and Afikim.
According to the drivers, they had decided to go on a strike because MeravMichaeli, the Transportation Minister, had refused to have a meeting and was not willing to listen to their demands.
According to the Organization of Israeli Bus Drivers, drivers have to work double shifts in order to earn a sufficient amount of money. Plus, they have to work more because is a shortage of drivers and at least 5,000 more are needed. In addition, the bus drivers have also complained of attacks and abuses from passengers that are not addressed.
In the last few weeks, the drivers have held a number of limited strikes, but now they decided to escalate their protest, resulting in the nationwide strike on Sunday during rush hour. According to the drivers’ union, the Transportation Minister is not raising their wages and is putting the lives of drivers and passengers at risk.
In addition, they stated that the ministry had failed to provide the drivers with adequate security and had not responded to their demand of hiring more drivers.
Transportation Minister Responds
According to Michaeli, she had already announced new allocations on Thursday for bus operators, after her repeated request for funds had been rejected by the Finance Ministry. She also stated that NIS 220 million, which is around $64 million, had already been allocated for improving the working conditions of the drivers and providing them training.
The areas that were affected by the strike of the bus drivers included Beersheba, Jerusalem, part of the West Bank, Petah Tikva, Ashdod, and BneiBrakand Netanya. Moreover, the Ben Gurion International Airport service was also affected. Since it is the beginning of the work week, it is going to create a lot of problems.
Soldiers typically go home for the weekend and then return to their bases. Some soldiers have been instructed by the ministry to return later than usual.
Meanwhile, it is not just the drivers’ union that has been organizing strikes in Israel. The teachers’ union has also been doing the same in the last week, as they are also willing to negotiate better pay and working conditions for the teachers. They had ended their strike on Friday after school had been canceled for two full days, which caused problems for working parents. As the government is in the midst of dissolving itself, it is unlikely that any progress will be made any time soon.