Dispute halts flow of Palestinian workers

Gaza border fence: Reuters

All crossings with the Gaza Strip, Judea, and Samaria are closed preventing entry to Israel of 70,000 Palestinians.

Workers at the Ministry of Defense Crossing Points Authority yesterday announced that they would escalate their sanctions, following the breakdown in negotiations between them and the Ministry of Finance over improvement of their employment terms and recognition of them as employees of the Ministry of Defense.

Starting today, the workers plan to close all of the pedestrian border crossings with the Gaza Strip, Judea, and Samaria, thereby preventing the entry to Israel of 70,000 Palestinians. At the same time, all crossings for goods, including the Kerem Shalom and Erez border crossings with the Gaza Strip, which were closed on Thursday, will continue to be closed until further notice. Passage will be allowed only in humanitarian cases.

Employees at the border crossings were organized in the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) three years ago, and began negotiations with the Ministries of Defense and Finance towards their inclusion in the collective labor agreement applying to the Ministry of Defense employees.; The acting committee established by the Crossing Points Authority allege that since the Authority was founded 12 years ago, its employees were hired under overall agreements, and their pay has been eroded.

80 employees are involved, and acting committee chairperson Sharon Baruch said, "At the end of long negotiations, we reached an agreement in principle with the Ministry of Finance six months ago. Later, however, the Ministry of Finance Wage and Labor Agreement Department director insisted on a salary model that would discriminate against us by 5-6% in comparison with Ministry of Defense employees. We do not receive many of the wage supplements received by Ministry of Defense employees under their collective agreement. This includes payment for overtime work and danger. We never instituted any sanctions at all during the negotiations. We are security personnel. We must remain in the shadows and not be seen, and do our job. Let them give us what we deserve, and let us do our work in peace."

Baruch added, "Our measures will continue and escalate until the negotiations between the parties are renewed and take place in businesslike fashion and in accordance with the agreements reached up until now."

Independently of the border crossing workers' dispute, the Ministry of Defense workers' committee recently declared a labor dispute, and announced that they would also begin sanctions, following measures taken by management of the ministry that harm organized labor. The chairperson of the Ministry of Finance workers' committee today expressed support for the border crossing workers' struggle.

The Ministry of Finance decline to respond, and the Ministry of Defense said, "The management of the Ministry of Defense and the Crossing Points Authority have been negotiating for over a year with the Ministry of Finance Wage and Labor Agreement Department director about anchoring the rights of the Crossing Points Authority workers, who are working day and night at dangerous jobs."

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on December 3, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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Gaza border fence: Reuters
Gaza border fence: Reuters
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