The Airports Authority Employees’ Union announced Thursday that they intend to observe Shabbat laws at Ben Gurion International Airport from dusk Friday until dark Saturday night. The strike was declared in protest of the Finance Ministry’s plan to take about half a million dollars in royalties from the airport authority. The union declared that the airports authority is not the cash cow of the state of Israel, and if the authority has been sitting on money the workers had been unaware of, it should use it to absorb the thousands of contract employees who are currently working without benefits.
A senior union member told Walla Thursday that the workers were enraged by the Finance Ministry’s decision to pull the funds, because “it’s clear to us that withdrawing the money will result in budget deficits at the authority, leading to mass layoffs.” He added that it looks like “the Finance Ministry wants to pay the costs of the government’s coalition agreements out of the Airport Authority’s money.”
According to the union, the Shabbat protocol will permit landings of already scheduled flights from abroad, but no takeoffs. But should the Finance Ministry not change its plan, further disruptions will follow.
This unusual, albeit partial observance of Shabbat laws comes at one of the busiest seasons at Ben Gurion International, with tens of thousands of Israelis leaving on their vacations every day. Last August saw the breaking of all time records, with more than two million passengers on international flights going through the airport.