Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Yesterday at 12.05 PM we had an electricity breakdown. The Israel Electric Corporation had announced that it might cut the power for 'short periods of time' ( something that is apparently is called brown-out in American English ) in various parts of the country to deal with the high power consumption as a result of the heat wave that we have been experiencing for some days now. As if this is the first time that we reach 30+ Celcius temperatures in June. Anyway, given the stoical responses of most people whom I met during the power cut I thought that I was the only one who thought that this is ridiculous, dangerous and part of a powerplay played by the IEC workers and management. Those workers - at least those who have tenure - are considered to have the highest salaries and best working conditions of any (semi)public company in Israel. Up to a certain amount of Kilowatts ( which is more than what an average family uses ) their families are entitled to free electricity, which is why many EIC workers cook on electricity and why you should not be surprised to see them open windows for fresh air while the airconditioning is working at full blast ( this I have seen with my own eyes ). In the past EIC workers already threatened to cut power when they were in the middle of a abor dispute either with their own management or with the government. The only - as far as I know - MK who had the guts to question their priviliged position ( e.g. he wanted to lower the limit of free electricity per EIC worker's family to a level that was still higher than average ) was Avraham Poraz of Shinuy, and neither he nor his party are not represented in the Knesset anymore ( not a great loss, except for his courage in facing the almighty EIC ). Yesterday afternoon I noticed that because of the power cut some traffic light were working, and others not. That was very dangerous, it would have been better if no traffic lights had been working, now you had to guess before you approached an interchange. That the power cut was irresponsible is proven by the fact that at least one person was killed in an accident as a result of traffic lights being turned off. Also, people were trapped in elevators for almost an hour. I called the EIC customers' service to suggest that at least they should announce when and where they were going to strike so that people could more or less know if they could take the elevator. I was told that they did not know in advance where power would be cut, which did not sound very plausible to me, especially because they had said in the media that the power cuts were to be distributed fairly among the different parts of the country. When the EIC insists "that its planned outages lasted no longer than half an hour in any given community" they lie: in our neighborhood it lasted for at least 50 minutes. On the evening news and this morning on Ha'Aretz' website I saw that I was not the only one who suffered from outage-outrage yesterday. Also, it became clear that I was right when I suspected some kind of power play being the reason for these bullying tactics of the EIC. Hopefully minister Ben-Eliezer will have the tools and the courage to punish those who are responsible for making clear once again that any monopoly on something that is vital for all citizens should be held by responsible people only, and that Israeli sometimes is nothing more than a 2nd World country at best.

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