Extensive work, which would have involved mass Shabbos desecration, was prevented through the efforts of the Committee on Behalf of Shabbos which enlisted the aid of Infrastructure Minister Eli Suissa (Shas) and UTJ MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni. More than 100 employees of the Israel Electric Company (IEC) in the Rottenberg power station in Ashkelon were scheduled to take part.
The heads of this Committee have long complained about the Israel Electric Company's maintenance and repair jobs being carried out with massive Shabbos desecration. According to Rabbi Tzvi Glassner, head of the Committee, this is work which can be done just as well during the week, without any need to work on Shabbos.
Last week, a number of religious workers asked the Committee to try to prevent scheduled work which was supposed to take place at the Rottenberg power station in Ashkelon last Shabbos. They said that the Electricity Company sought to take advantage of the work that is being done to connect two new generating units and to conduct other maintenance and repair work.
Rabbi Tzvi Glassner immediately turned to the Minister of National Infrastructure and to Rabbi Moshe Gafni, to try to prevent the Shabbos desecration which was supposed to involve more than 100 workers. Rabbi Glassner said that workers who refuse to work on Shabbos will almost certainly be fired by the Electricity Company, and this applies especially to many temporary workers who are engaged there.
On erev Shabbos 3 Kislev, Minister made great efforts to prevent the Shabbos desecration, and he succeeded in preventing the maintenance work and the repairs from being carried out.
A spokesman of the Ministry said that recently, very complex work has been going on 24 hours a day at the Rottenberg power station in Ashkelon in order to connect two new units with the station's two existing units. The new units are supposed to provide 600 megawatts of electricity a day on top of the 1100 megawatts provided by the original units. Certain phases of this connection can be done only after shutting down the existing units.
Experts of the Electricity Administration and of the Israel Electric Company claim that it is only possible to shut down the existing units on Shabbosim, when consumption of electricity in the country is minimal.
As a result, the Company was issued a very large number of Shabbos work permits -- some 800 -- by the Ministry of Welfare and Labor. However, the Company was planning to use these permits to also carry out extensive maintenance work and repairs which have no connection to the work of connecting the two units. The Electric Company has no work permit for the maintenance and repair work on Shabbosim.
Rabbi Tzvi Glassner is very grateful to the Minister of Infrastructure, Eli Suissa for having managed to drastically reduce the extent of the Shabbos desecration. The Minister contacted the Director General of the IEC, Rafi Peled, and explained to him the situation. Peled ordered the maintenance work be cancelled and even that the regular work for which the company had a Shabbos permit, be kept to the minimum.
While not minimizing the achievement, Rabbi Glassner expressed his shock over the ongoing scandal taking place at Rottenberg power station, in all that pertains to the employment of workers on Shabbosim.
He says that the Minister of Welfare and Labor had already been asked to investigate the situation regarding the work being done in both the old and the new sections of the power station in Ashkelon. He said that the managers of the station have ordered work to be conducted within the framework of the Shabbos permits granted to the company, even though it does not have to be done on Shabbos, even according to the IEC.
He told Yated that two weeks ago, 60 workers did maintenance and repair work at the Ashkelon power station, even though those jobs could have been done on weekdays.
"This scandalous situation must be investigated by a professional and objective committee, which will thoroughly and seriously examine how the Rottenberg station illegally makes use of permits granted the IEC for other purposes."
Rabbi Glassner also noted that the intolerable atmosphere of Shabbos desecration which prevails throughout the IEC has led to a situation in which it very rarely hires Shabbos observers so that out of the 10,000 employees of the company, only a very few are religious and these are baalei teshuva who were hired before they became Torah observant.
"The information in our possession gives rise to a very sad picture, and portrays the IEC as totally closed to religious and traditional workers who do not want to desecrate the Shabbos. As a result of this policy, such people are prevented from working in this company, whose pay and working conditions are very good," said Rabbi Glassner to Yated.