The Shmooze

Airport Strike In Israel Ends, But Damage Is Done

By Michael Kaminer

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Come Yom Kippur, employees at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport might have to atone for scrambling thousands of passengers’ travel plans. On Monday, during one of Israel’s busiest travel periods of the year, the Israel Airports Authority employees union declared a strike; by late yesterday, the strike had been settled, Haaretz reported.

But the damage had been done. The eight-hour strike was enough to delay the unloading of baggage from incoming flights, which “interfered with the plans of thousands of passengers who were set to depart or arrive at the airport,” Haaretz said.

A group of Orthodox Jews did their best to save stranded travelers from boredom, however. “Some of the hundreds of Breslav Hasidim returning from pilgrimage to Ukraine on Monday caused a disturbance in the baggage claims area, banging on small drums, after learning they would not be able to receive their luggage due to the strike,” the article said. Police increased their presence at the airport to avoid further disturbances.

What prompted the strike? According to BusinessWeek, “workers feared the government would raid their pension fund to cover other debts, including hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation owed to people living near the airport over noise complaints.” Workers prevailed on their main demand, the transfer of pension funds to a trust. “I am glad we were able to reduce the harm and suffering to the citizens of Israel,” Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said, via Haaretz.


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