Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport Halts Departures amidst Strike
On Monday, a ‘historic’ labor strike was declared by the Histadrut labor federation against the controversial judicial overhaul of the government.
This was an escalation of the demonstrations after Yoav Gallant, the Defense Minister, was fired for speaking up against the government’s push to pass the legislation.
The labor action
The Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv quickly announced that all departures would be halted in accordance with the labor action. Other organizations also followed suit to comply with the strike call.
Arnon Bar-David, the chief of Histadrut, said that they were all concerned about the country’s fate. He spoke at a press conference with public officials and business leaders and said that they had had enough.
He said that this was no longer about the right or the left, as they could not polarize Israel anymore. This announcement came before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to give a statement.
The premier is expected to announce that they are freezing the legislation process. According to the union boss, they had done everything to avoid this situation in recent weeks.
However, Bar-David said that their efforts had gone to waste and they were all joining hands to shut down the nation. He added that factories and malls would be closed down.
The health sector is also included in the strike, as the Israel Medical Association also pledged its support. At the end of the speech, the labor union’s head received a standing ovation.
People chanted democracy and were cheering. The participants of the meeting also sang the national anthem.
The press conference had been announced after an emergency meeting had taken place between business leaders and Bar-David.
The Histadrut said that they had been shocked at the decision of the premier to fire the defense minister.
Footage from the overnight protests taking place on the Ayalon Highway showed Bar-David alongside other demonstrators and chanting ‘strike’.
He had previously suggested that if no compromise deal was reached in regard to the overhaul, the Histadrut should be prepared to take action.
Nonetheless, until now, he had not involved the powerful union in the protests that had taken place against the overhaul proposals.
Historically, the strikes that Histadrut had held over public sector conditions and wages have had a significant impact on Israel and its economy.
The labor federation had refrained from participating in the ‘national day of struggle’ last month and there was speculation that it wanted to avoid a fight with the coalition because a new wage agreement had to be finalized.
Earlier this month, a new wage deal had been signed. Shortly after Bar-David’s speech, Ben Gurion Airport’s workers union took action.
Pinchas Idan announced that all takeoffs would be halted. Banks, companies and stores also began to cease operations on Monday in order to participate in the strike.
Israel Electric Corporation and hospitals said that they would operate on a reduced schedule. Restaurant chains like Aroma and McDonald’s as well as tech companies also shut their doors.