Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Teves 5766 - January 11, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Computer Sabotage at the Jerusalem Municipality

by Betzalel Kahn

The workers of the Chevra LeOtomatzia Shel Hashilton Hamekomi (Local Authorities Automation Company) are carrying out a wildcat strike at the Jerusalem Municipality, wreaking havoc with the computer system. This high-tech sabotage is delaying property tax collection through standing bank orders, preventing bills for 2006 from being sent and even last month's salary slips for municipality workers had to be handwritten—all because the contract between the City and the company ended and another computer company won the tender. So far the wildcat strike has cost the City NIS 60 million ($13 million).

The Automation Company, the largest software house providing services for local governments, has been developing and implementing advanced, innovative computer systems at local authorities, including full support services, for over 30 years. "The Automation Company has been providing smart computer solutions that make the service to the citizen and the management of the authority more efficient and faster," says a spokesman for the company, which is controlled by the Interior Ministry (40 percent) and the Center for Local Government (60 percent).

Several months ago Municipality Director Eitan Meir decided to issue a new tender for computer services and "end the Automation Company's monopoly" at the Municipality after it provided services for three decades. Meir claims the Automation Company charges exorbitant fees for the services rendered and during a period of layoffs and cost cutting this expenditure should be reduced as well. According to Municipality officials the company demands NIS 17 million per month ($3.7 million) in addition to the high fixed sum it receives.

Even after the Automation Company tried to block the tender in court, the Municipality included a paragraph in the tender requiring the winner to hire the majority of Automation Company workers, in order to provide for their continued employment. "The Municipality felt an obligation toward the 80 workers and we wanted to continue the computer work without interruption since the [Municipality] workers are very familiar with the computerized systems," explained one Municipality official.

The tender was won by MALAM Systems, which bid NIS 30 million less than the other companies. At this point the Automation Company decided to put a wrench in the works. Employees asked the court to prevent MALAM's entry, but their request was dismissed out of hand. According to Municipality officials the Automation Company then began to sabotage the system by removing operating files and passwords.

Meanwhile they kept MALAM employees from coming in to work. The Municipality found a very original way to remove Automated Company workers from the premises. Security guards rushed into the office rooms in a panic telling everyone to clear out because a suspicious object had been discovered. They left — but the computer systems remain inoperable. Without the basic operating files the 700,000 city residents and 7,000 municipal workers are effectively being held hostage by a company acting like a poor loser.

"As soon as the employees begin negotiations with MALAM over transferring to the company, everything will work out," says the Municipality, but blames the employees for their unwillingness to conduct negotiations. "The Automation Company is threatening the workers, saying anyone who conducts negotiations with MALAM will lose all of his pension rights. We are not their employer, we are a third party, but the biggest casualty is the property tax bills, which were supposed to get sent out at the beginning of December. A total of NIS 60 million [$13 million] in standing bank orders were not collected last month from residents' [bank] accounts, property tax bills for 2006 have not yet been sent out and those are only the direct damages."


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.