Following Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz's threat, last week to shut down the Israel Railways if it didn't outsource maintenance of its rolling stock, the rairoad's board of directors decided, Sunday evening, to put maintenance of the 130 new cars in the hands their manufacturer, Canada's Bombardier company. The move is opposed by the Histadrut Labor Federation, on behalf of the railroads' employees and has resulted in recent labor sanctions.
The directors said they had no choice, given the lack of progress in 18 months of negotiations. Katz said that reform was needed at the railroad for the sake of serving the public and dealing with labor issues. The Histadrut and the railway employees issued a statement, Sunday evening, calling Katz's ultimatum a declaration of war, "not only on the railway workers, but the entire organized labor. This move will bring an escalation of labor relations on the train and cause unrest for a long time."