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Labor court orders El Al pilots to end sanctions

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The Tel Aviv Labor Court today ordered El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. pilots to return to their normal work routine, after initiating labor sanctions yesterday.

As a result of those sanctions, El Al cancelled flight LY 623 from Tel Aviv to Saint Petersburg, and the return flight, LY 624.

The court stated, "The 'decline in motivation' that the pilots presented us is not specific, but collective for all pilots. This conduct is unacceptable without prior coordination with the representative organization, which was not done in this case." The court was referring to the fact that the pilots' representative on the El Al workers committee, Captain Nir Tzuk, did not act with the consent of El Al workers committee chairman Asher Edry and the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel).

"We have therefore issued a temporary injunction in the presence of both parties ordering the Histadrut and El Al's union to use their authority and order the pilots to resume regular work per the norm at the airline in previous times of pressure."

A hearing in the presence of both parties is scheduled for July 17.

Industry sources said that the decision by El Al's management in May to ban upgrades for pilots' families infuriated the pilots, leading to today's sanctions. The sources said that what broke management's patience was a pilot who upgraded three friends to first class and his daughter to business class on a flight. They also said that, during the tenure of former El Al CEO Amos Shapiro, Tzuk abandoned a flight to New York just before takeoff to protest that no business class seat was found for another pilot.

El Al said in response to today's court ruling, "The pilots' representative on the workers committee, Captain Nir Tzuk decided at his own initiative to initiate actions that are tantamount to labor sanctions, which resulted in several pilots not turning up for duty. As a result we were forced to cancel flights to and from Saint Petersburg. Regrettably, El Al petitioned the Tel Aviv Labor Courrt."

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