Deserted train station (file)
Deserted train station (file) Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Labor Court issued a back-to-work order against railway workers Tuesday after the Railway Employees' Union froze all train movement in Israel, in an open-ended strike. The court wanted the employees back at work by 9:00.

The union said it launched the strike because it has been fighting for improved employment conditions for its members for 18 months, with no result.

"With all the sorrow and sympathy toward the passengers, we have no choice," the union said.

The union notes that the Finance Ministry recently signed a deal with the huge Histadrut umbrella union – but that this deal did not include the railway workers.

The Israel Railways management asked the labor court to issue back-to-work orders against the employees and force an end to the strike. The Labor Court was to discuss the matter at 11:30 a.m. but reached a decision earlier.

The management accused the union Monday of using the railway's clients as "hostages in their struggle to ward off progress in Israel Railways." They called the strike "cheap and arrogant" as well as "aggressive and irresponsible."

A major point of contention between the union and management is the introduction of four new engine cars. The union says workers have not been sufficiently trained in their operation.