Arkia Airlines Plans to Unilaterally Lay Off Nearly 40% of Its Workers

Following reports that Arkia Airlines is planning to lay off 250 out of its 650 employees after the closure of Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov Airport, the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) has declared a labor dispute with the carrier.

Arkia workers demonstrate at Tel Aviv's Sde Dov airport to protest the planned lay off of 250 of the company's employees.

Arkia workers demonstrate at Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov airport to protest the planned lay off of 250 of the company’s employees. (Photo: Workers’ Committee)

“Even though the employment security of Arkia’s workers is ensured by a collective agreement signed by the parties in 2013, with specific mention of the possibility that activity at Sde Dov might be terminated, the company is planning to unilaterally fire hundreds of workers without consulting their representatives, as required,” a spokesperson for the Histadrut said.

“In addition to the grounds for the dispute, the Histadrut calls on Arkia’s management to fulfill its legal obligation, halt the measures that contravene the provisions of the collective agreement, and act in cooperation with the Histadrut and Arkia workers’ committee to consider alternatives that will make it unnecessary to fire workers, and to reach a consensual arrangement in the matter,” the Histadrut states.

“To the astonishment of the workers’ representatives, it was learned this morning that Arkia CEO Nir Dagan did not plan to transfer the company’s workers employed at Sde Dov to Ben Gurion Airport, and that he had made no preparations for Arkia’s work on the premises of Ben Gurion Airport,” the Histadrut added.

“We were surprised to discover through the media the plan to fire a considerable number of workers, but we do not intend for one minute to allow management to refrain from respecting the existing collective agreement on transferring the workers from Sde Dov to Ben Gurion Airport. There is no reason for these dedicated and professional workers to end their work at Arkia. We will fight against the decision with all the means available to us in order to prevent this wretched measure,” Arkia national workers’ committee chairperson Aliza Balaish said.

In 2005, American capitalists Avi, Joseph, and Ralph Nakash of the Jordache Jeans brand had acquired the controlling interest in Arkia Airlines from its employees, in a deal that was worth an estimated $10 million. Following the deal, the Nakash brothers were in possession of 65% of Arkia Airlines stock. Since the 1990s, the Nakash brothers have entered into the Israeli economy with various businesses including hotels, the international airline Arkia, the privatized Port of Eilat, Ampa Real Estate, the Halutza Oil Company, and Prinir.