Thousands still without power as workers, Electric Company feud

After a freak, severe winter storm hit Israel Sunday morning, knocking out power in dozens of communities throughout the country, thousands of homes are still without power – not necessarily because the power can't be fixed, but because of what one consumer rights group said was an “organized slowdown” by workers, who have been feuding with management over the impending breakup of the company.

It's unthinkable that because of a few drops of rain the entire country will be shut down for hours on end. This is supposed to be a large, well-organized company, and should not be brought to a halt with the first rain.”

A spokesperson for management said that the IEC “had experienced a large number of calls on power outages, downed power lines, and other phenomenon caused by the heavy rains and strong winds of Sunday morning's storms. However, throughout the day IEC workers stuck to their normal schedule, although they properly should have been on an emergency schedule. The gap between customer needs and available service was the cause of the outages.”

IEC management petitioned the National Labor Court Sunday night, demanding that workers be forced to take on emergency schedules throughout the night until all power is restored.

Unions representing workers rejected the IEC's complaints, saying that they had been overworked and overwhelmed, “the result of mismanagement and a lack of resources provided for infrastructure and staff for the past 15 years. It is the state that is responsible for the poor condition of the electricity infrastructure in the country today, with years of zero investment and increasing layoffs. The complaints by management are designed to protect it from the catastrophic results of its policies by blaming workers.”

MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), chairman of the Knesset Economics Committee, said he would demand an investigation into Sunday's events. “We cannot accept a situation where a fight between labor and management will result in the suffering of thousands of families,” he said.


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