Wages and job security for Israel Railways workers

Feb 02, 2023

After more than four years of negotiations, the Histadrut, Israel Railways, and the Commissioner of Wages and Employment in the Ministry of Finance finally reached a collective agreement for the railway workers. The new agreement for the railway employees is centered on a salary increase for the approximately 3,700 employees, the promotion of the railway electrification project, a mechanism for occupational security until 2039, and the regulation of a series of other issues

The Histadrut, the Israel Railways Workers’ Council, and the management signed today (Thursday) a new wage agreement in the company with the approval of the Ministry of Finance. The agreement, led by the Histadrut Transport Workers Union, comes after years of negotiations to improve the employment conditions of the workers in the many sectors that make up the company. The agreement will apply to approximately 3,700 workers and was signed in the presence of Minister of Transportation Miri Regev, Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David, Acting Commissioner of Wages at the Ministry of Finance Efi Malkin, Chairman of Israel Railways Attorney Moshe Shimoni, CEO of Israel Railways Micha Meixner and Chairwoman of the Workers’ Committee Gila Adrai.

At the heart of the agreement, which will be in effect for four years and seven months, is a salary increase of 5.25% for all employees and an additional 1% for the various workers. In addition, the agreement regulates the cooperation of railway employees with the performance of different tasks, as detailed in the agreement.

The workers will enjoy job security until 2039 as part of the railway electrification project. At the same time, mechanisms were arranged for the mobility of workers due to the transition to electricity while maintaining their rights, well-being, and wages. Furthermore, for employees whose jobs are affected by the electrification (refuellers, gas station managers, etc.), a unique salary security mechanism will be activated, and employees whose wages were affected in the last two years due to the electrification works will receive compensation under the agreement.

Along with safeguarding the rights of the employees in all aspects, the new agreement looks to the future and provides an answer to the development and evolution of the railway for the benefit of commuters.

Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David welcomed the agreement and said: “This is a historic defining moment that I have worked for since I took office. Relations at Israel Railways have known ups and downs, so I am happy about this status which is good news for the employees. The railway workers, thanks to whom the citizens of Israel receive better public transportation, know today that their great dedication has a more significant reward.

The new agreement, in the shadow of the changes and the electrification momentum of the Israel Railways, not only provides an employment horizon for the employees and better wages but strengthens the state’s infrastructure and connects the center and the periphery. Thanks to today’s agreements, we will also have fruitful cooperation in the future and the flourishing of Israel Railways moving forward. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the agreement, the Minister of Transportation, Miri Regev, the management, and especially the incoming Chairman of the Transport Workers’ Union, Eyal Yadin, and the outgoing Chairman Avi Adri – thanks to whom the workers will benefit from the fruits of the agreement. Thanks also to the Chairman of the workers’ committee, Gila Adrai, who has been leading the workers with a firm hand for years.”

Minister of Transportation and Road Safety Miri Regev: “The Israeli government will not harm workers, and no law will be passed that would harm organizing. The workers are the solution and not the problem; therefore, the Histadrut will find partners in the government to lead reforms while preserving workers’ rights jointly. This is a win-win for the benefit of the Israeli public. We will cooperate and take care of the workers because they are the economy’s growth engine.

Regarding the agreement: it’s a happy day that brings good news. The railway workers’ committee is an example of how a workers’ committee should conduct itself: on the one hand, concern for the workers and, on the other hand, progress towards a technological future. Without your leadership, Mr. Chairman of the Histadrut, who sees the importance of the Israeli economy, sees the public, and puts the workers at the center – we would not be here today. Together we will continue to address other issues in public transportation.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich: “The Israel Railways is in a tremendous development boom to improve productivity and connect the periphery to the center. The agreement with the railway workers will ensure that the railway meets the major challenges: switching to an electric train, introducing safety systems, and ensuring the continuity of the train’s operation. Thus – to improve the public transport system in Israel, I thank the Chairman of the Histadrut Arnon Bar-David, the railway management, and the workers’ committee who worked for many years on this agreement, which will benefit both the railway workers and the residents of the State of Israel.”

Efi Malkin, Acting Commissioner of Wages in the Ministry of Finance: “The agreement that was signed is important for the stability of the labor relations in the railway and the improvement of the service to citizens. The agreement marches the company into the era of electric trains, will implement safety systems, and will significantly improve the company’s management flexibility. Thanks to the professional team that accompanied – Tali Oberman, Shaked Castleman, and attorney Noam Rif.”

Chairman of the Israel Railways Board of Directors, Attorney Moshe Shimoni: “The most important resource of the railway is its human resource. The new agreement forged with great pains and labor is a defining event for the railway employees and the tens of millions of passengers it serves. I am proud that we were able to produce an agreement that is an important anchor in the company’s conduct. I want to thank the Minister of Transportation for working for the agreement, the Chairman of the Histadrut for his close support and for finding solutions to the various issues, the CEO of the railway, and the Chairman of the railway board for the hard work for the agreement. The agreement guarantees a transportation future for the State of Israel.”

Israel Railways CEO Michael Meixner: “Israel Railways is an asset that touches the citizens of Israel daily. Today we are concluding a long and complex negotiation of four years, at the end of which we brought an agreement that is the basis for regulating the labor relations system in the railway and establishing an infrastructure of joint work that will support the company’s progress towards its goals along with the employment security of its employees.

This is another step towards building a solid society for the benefit of the commuters and the employees, and I am proud to sign an agreement that outlines the tracks for the next five years and a decade. I thank all the partners on the way, the Minister of Transportation for her support in the process, the Chairman of the board, Moshe Shimoni, the Chairman of the Histadrut, the head of the railway workers committee, and the members of the committee and the railway management. And most importantly, I thank the railway workers for their day-to-day work for the sake of the public in Israel.”

Chairman of the Transportation Workers’ Union, Attorney Eyal Yadin: “I would like to thank the dear people who managed this negotiation. I must point out that the principle guiding us all along is how to develop healthy working relations for the day after the agreement. A collective agreement is a piece of paper that is signed on. However, working relations are much more than that. The ability to work together with the thought of promoting the railway and safeguarding the rights of all employees in the railway is an important task. I wish all of us to continue the path we have chosen together to work in cooperation, respect each other, and lift the railway into a new era.”

The Chairman of the Railway Workers’ Committee, Gila Adrai: “After a long and complex negotiation, we reached an agreement that first and foremost respects the railway employees in all sectors without exception, guarantees compensation and wage increases along with job security, and responds to the future of the company and the challenges that are yet to come.

We conducted negotiations during one of the most difficult and complex periods we have known in Israel: frequent elections, exchanges of ministers and professional officials with different agendas, the corona epidemic that paralyzed the economy, and more. Yet, with all the difficulties and bumps along the way, we knew how to stick to our way, to insist on the future of the railway workers and create an agreement that guarantees compensation and peace and puts the workers at the center.”

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