Strike strands air travelers in Israel

During the sudden strike, thousands of frustrated airline passengers milled about as they were left stranded.

A union leader said that planes had been allowed to land but not take off, and arriving passengers were not able to claim their luggage. However, the union had permitted landings and takeoffs of planes carrying medical supplies and agricultural products.

The workers had been demanding that management fulfill a promise to give tenure to a number of temporary workers. Airports Authority spokesman Pini Schiff said that the authority had promised to grant tenure if circumstances allowed.

Schiff said that despite the need to reduce staff because of the drastic drop in tourism during the second half of last year, management had acted sensitively about laying off workers and had consulted with union representatives in each case.

He said that although the authority had promised to give some temporary workers tenure, now was not the time to add people to the permanent workforce.

He added that the union had promised to do its part in reducing the workforce and reducing salary costs, but had not done so. He also condemned the timing of the strike during a period of crisis and terror attacks as miserable.

Schiff said that a total of 30 flights, with some 3,000 passengers, had been affected.

El Al spokesman Nachman Klieman said that "work sanctions at a time like this, when tourism has been seriously affected, does nothing to improve the situation."