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Egged Bus Drivers Protest Treatment by Holding Company

The Keystone Fund, which owns Egged, announced a plan to distribute 630 million shekels ($172 million) in dividends as well as additional bonuses for management—without providing any additional pay to the bus company’s workers | Union Head Koby Vahanish: “It seems they don’t understand that it’s the workers who bring in the money”

הפגנת עובדי אגד בגבעתיים (צילום: דוברות ההסתדרות)
Egged workers protesting in Givatayim. (Photo: Histadrut spokesperson)
By Nizzan Zvi Cohen

Members of the Egged union, representing Israel’s largest transit bus company, protested last week outside of the Givatayim offices of the Keystone Fund, which owns the bus company. The protest comes on the coattails of an announcement of massive dividends to be distributed to Keystone management and shareholders, ignoring the workers’ contributions to the success of the company. The demonstrators carried signs plastered with slogans like “Next Stop—Pay for the Workers” and called on Egged CEO Gilad Riklin to agree to their request to negotiate.

“We are responsible workers who love this company,” said Koby Vahanish, head of the Egged workers’ union. “Egged is important to us, but unfortunately we feel that management is dragging their feet and disregarding the importance of the workers. It seems they don’t understand that it’s the workers who bring in the money. I want to say very clearly, we will not let them ignore us and we demand they give us what we deserve.”

In a letter to the Egged CEO, Histadrut Transportation Workers Union Chair Eyal Yadin made clear that the workers deserve a monetary bonus for their exceptional work, especially since the outbreak of the war.

“For nine months now there has been war and an ongoing state of emergency. During this entire period, Egged workers have been engaged in maintaining regular transportation as much as possible,” Yadin wrote. “Even in the evacuated areas, bus drivers and staff continue to show up to do their jobs—among them are also workers who have been evacuated from their own homes.”

Thanks to the performance and dedication of the workers, Egged recorded huge profits this year, and its achievements were reported in the media. The company chose to distribute dividends of 630 million shekels ($172 million) to the shareholders as well as bonuses to its management. “We, of course, welcome these achievements, but it seems that the company’s dedicated workers were forgotten here,” Yadin wrote. “It is unthinkable that precisely during this period the workers remain in the dust.”

“Egged workers enjoy the highest salary in the industry, and for good reason. They are good workers and the most professional in their field, and we appreciate their dedication,” a representative for Egged said. “During the acquisition, Egged workers received around 100 million shekels [$27 million]. The additional demands are being discussed at the moment and there are negotiations on the subject between management and the workers, in accordance with the labor agreements.”

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