Monday, November 06, 2006

A most striking visit

Blogging may be lighter than usual during the next week, as we entertain my parents, or rather, the Little One entertains his grandparents while we watch and periodically translate from the sidelines.

They arrived safely, though not terribly soundly, given the strike at the airport that caused massive delays in luggage removal from planes in the best-case scenario, and a worst-case scenario where luggage was not actually removed from the planes prior to the planes taking off again, as happened to Adrian - our local Expat Egghead. By some miracle, Dad managed to come out into the Arrivals Hall, and by another miracle, I managed to spot him from one level up, race down the stairs, push through the crowds, scoot around the passengers' only area, and have a quick conversation with him, arguing with a security guard who tried to make him go back inside before we were done talking (I won). To make a long story short, we picked up my parents - sans luggage, drove through Thursday evening rush hour traffic to Azrieli Center to grab some dinner and kill a few hours, before making our way back to the airport to discover that contrary to what my parents were told, their luggage had not been taken off the plane within two to three hours. It was a total, chaotic nightmare. Passengers were not told about the strike (Mom even grabbed a luggage cart), and once they did find out, there was no one around to provide information, answer questions, etc. Upon returning to the airport, they were told that "no one knew when their luggage would be available", so we headed for home, opting to return the next afternoon, and finally retrieving their luggage.

It's rather maddening and insane to see an entire airport held hostage by the whims of temporary workers (and may I emphasize the word "temporary", which is what these workers are?). As one of my office colleagues pointed out, in hi-tech, an employee can be fired from one day to the next, and he or she has almost no recourse. Can you imagine hi-tech workers going on strike because some of their colleagues were being fired? It is a travesty that these actions are repeatedly carried out in Israel, and it's frightening that the government is too wrapped up in itself to do anything. Why should port workers, electric company employees, and so on, be immune from such "routine" activities as redundancy, when no one else is? How can the government allow these workers to shut down essential airport passenger services for several days, causing total disruption and chaos, not to mention the effects that this will have on Israel's image, given the number of tourists who arrived in Israel for the first time were met with utter confusion and complete indifference to their plight. I can't help but wonder how many of them will be anxious to donate money to Israel in the future, and how stories for the folks back home will be clouded by not being able to retrieve their luggage before leaving the airport.

All of that aside, though, now that they are both fully kitted out with their own belongings, I believe that my parents are having a nice time, and have been completely charmed by their grandson. We've been to a horse show, visited family, and worked our way through Ikea, looking for a bed and closet for the Little One. I'm also pleased to mention that my mother is now addicted to cake from Roladin (sorry, the English link doesn't seem to work), pronouncing their cakes to be just as good as, if not better than, the cakes from Flakowitz, which, if you are at all in the know with regard to either NY or South Florida bakeries, know to be among the best there is.

The Little One ran up to them immediately at the airport, allowing both of his grandparents to cover him with hugs and kisses, and then making them (and everyone else watching) laugh as he wheeled their carry-on bag out to the parking lot. He babbles at them in both English and Hebrew, so we are doing quite a lot of translating. He also makes us watch his new Dora the Explorer and Bob the Builder videos. Repeatedly. I should be grateful, given that these characters are infinitely more palpable than a certain big purple dinosaur who's popularity has risen dramatically in our household lately (would you believe that he's just as annoying in Hebrew as he is in English?), but if I hear "can we fix it?" one more time, I'm thinking the "it" in that sentence is going to be a certain Bob the Builder video.

There's not much more to share at this point, and given that I've got to run over to Roladin in order to get Mom her fix and feed her habit, I'm going to cut this short. Have a good week, y'all, and I'll try to pop in periodically to say hi. Regular blogging to resume next week, though one never knows. I might just surprise you somewhere along the way.


Anonymous said...

The term "temporary workers" is actually more than a little misleading.
In reality the large majority of these so-called temporary employees worked between 20 - 30 years (!) in low level jobs such as airplane cleaning.
As they were employed by means of employment agencies, they were sacked every now and then and then re-employed in order to prevent them from building up rights such as pension plans etc.

As a result these mostly elderly people find themselves on the streets, with no copensation payment or a very small companesation payment.
A good exmaple is a woman who was today interviewed in Ha'aretz. She worked for over 20 years as a cleaner. Due to the above mentioned tricks she has an official record of only 4 years of work (due to being sacked and remeployed again and again by the same actual company in the same job, for a minimum wage.
She is the mother in a one parent family, she has a son, she's ill with cancer, has no pension.
Should i go on?

As stated, the terms used by the authorities are a form of disinfomration.
IMO tghe strike is more than justified, we should feel ashamed that national companies such as the airport authority allows these monkey business practices on the backs of the weakest workers.

to coompare them to highly paid hitech workers (who usually have nice benfit packages) is cynical.

tafka PP said...

I'm with you re the fears that all our behaviour will eventually drive Israel's supporters away (and it is already happening, West Coast Jews are increasingly loathe to donate) and sadly think that the more the dirty practices which continue unfettered (such as the ones that Yudit describes) come to light, the more likely this is to happen...

On a less miserable note, I remember the first time I saw Dora and Boots speaking Spanish instead of Hebrew and English. Mighty confusing!

nrg said...

I am so glad that the 'rents are safely in place and getting their pants charmed off.

I was glad that Yudit came in an spoke up for the workers. I know nothing about the situation in Israel but had a suspition that temporary (as it all too often is) is a term that is used to deny workers any type of rights. I have recently been voted as union rep in my company here in Norway and it is an issue I'm burning for a bit right now...

I think the inconvenience and first impression is a valid gripe, Liza... it would have had me flinging less than complimentary comments toward anyone unlucky enough to be within earshot. But, in fairness to workers, usually strikes are not entered into lightly or enjoyed by those striking. It is in most cases seen as a last resort when they are unable to negotiate with employers and feel they have no other way to make themselves heard.

I assume/hope that after the chaos, someone is listening. That is a good thing. Had they listened from the start, perhaps the strike could have been avoided...

Thanks for the info, Yudit.

And Liza, I have successfully kept the little viking (lets call him Odin, shall we? Or maybe Tor, the god of thunder!) away from the horrible purple dinosaur!!! THe viking girl's videos have been hidden away and he has NOT been translated into Norwegian yet... thank G-d!!

Hugs and kisses to the family!!

RR said...

"Why should port workers, electric company employees, and so on, be immune from such "routine" activities as redundancy, when no one else is?"

Amen, amen, AMEN!

I think I'd need both hands and both feet to count all the strikes I've lived through since moving here 13 years ago. Absolutely pathetic the way we are constantly held hostage by these people.

Glad you finally got the luggage sorted out, enjoy your time with your parents!

BagelUndertheCouch said...

hahahahahaha, i babysit for a romanian couple one time and their daughter watched barney in romanian every. single. day. i babysat her. poor barney. being multilingual usually makes things more interesting and/or bearable. not in his case.