Are Israelis stop traveling over COVID-19?
El Al staff in self quarantine over Coronavirus
Some El Al Airlines employees are in self-quarantine already, according to the Israel Health Ministry guidelines, after returning from countries hit by the Coronavirus.
Israeli flag carrier El Al said Thursday it has ordered the immediate suspension of all flights to and from Italy, with travel to Thailand set to also be halted next week until March 27, due to the spread of coronavirus.
El Al’s labor union will convene an emergency meeting of the Israel national carrier’s workforce Sunday, after the airline said it was formulating a plan to fire some 1,000 people, nearly one-sixth of its workers, due to financial losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
After the firing announcement Thursday, representatives of the employees and the Histadrut umbrella labor union met with El Al management for talks that lasted late into the night but did not reach any agreements on the planned layoffs.
The company’s announcement on the planned firings was seen as part of a negotiation tactic in talks with labor representatives; the announcement of the plan does not actually mean that 1,000 people will be fired. The company employs some 6,300 people, 3,600 of whom are permanent workers.
The Sunday meeting will be held at the El Al union’s offices at Ben Gurion International Airport, the Calcalist business daily reported.
The negotiations between El Al management and labor representatives are expected to continue throughout the week.
The El Al union, also known as a workers’ committee, was reportedly surprised by the scope of the firings plan, despite the company’s earlier warnings that the virus outbreak would cause tens of millions of dollars of revenue losses.
The committee is said to be exploring options for reducing the company’s workforce without axing employees, including giving up on paid vacation days and reducing the number of shifts people work.
If the two sides do not reach an agreement in the coming days, El Al is expected to start handing out pink slips. The workers are likely to take steps in retaliation, including possibly going on strike.
Government ministers are set to hold a meeting Sunday in Tel Aviv on the economic threats posed by the virus and are likely to discuss damage to the tourism industry. The company hopes the government will decide to give assistance to the beleaguered airline, although such a move might be complicated by Monday’s election.
Three hundred employees were immediately placed on leave.