The Egged bus company will go on strike Tuesday, shutting down public transportation for millions of Israelis across the country, if no agreement can be reached with the government.
Egged officials say a complete shutdown of bus service will begin at 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Israel’s largest bus company, Egged relies heavily on government subsidies and has demanded expanded financial support from the state to fund pensions for the large number of drivers expected to retire in the coming years.
Avi Nissenkorn, head of the Histadrut labor union umbrella group, explained that Egged will be unable to both cover the pension plans and operate existing bus lines without extra government funding.
Egged, said Nissenkorn, “is standing on the brink of collapse.”
Last week Nissenkorn warned of a general strike if an agreement could not be reached with the Finance Ministry.
"For a long time, the Histadrut and Egged drivers did everything they could to prevent dramatic steps from being taken," Nissenkorn said. "However, the Israeli government used the time they were granted to delay the unavoidable.”
Finance Ministry officials, however, say Egged squandered extra money provided to it from the state treasury to streamline the company and cut costs.
The last subsidy agreement between the ministry and Egged ended in late 2015, and has yet to be replaced. In its place, the ministry has agreed to short-term transfers to help the company cover drivers’ wages.