Histadrut, Treasury in talks to avoid Wed's general strike

Avi Nissenkorn
Avi Nissenkorn

The Histadrut is demanding that all workers in core areas be direct government employees, not contract workers.

If no understandings are reached in the coming days on the employment of contract labor in the public sector, the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) will declare a general strike this Wednesday. The strike is being called to pressure the Ministry of Finance to reduce the number of contract workers in the civil service. Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn is meeting today with Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon in an attempt to find a solution acceptable to both sides.

The possible strike on Wednesday will include Ben Gurion Airport workers, a measure that will disrupt work there at one of the busiest times of the year. It is possible that the strike at Ben Gurion Airport will initially be for only a few hours in order to reduce the damage to passengers.

The strike will also include all the government ministries, support units like the National Insurance Institute and the Israel National Employment Service, and the religious councils, the Israel Postal Company, the Enforcement and Collection Authority, the Israel Tax Authority, the ports, child care centers run by WIZO and Na'amat, the banks, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), agricultural produce and marketing councils, and the universities' secretariats. The strike will also extend to the local councils: garbage will not be collected, there will be no office hours, and parking inspectors will not issue tickets.

200,000 workers in the public sector are currently employed through personnel agencies. The Histadrut is demanding a commitment from the Ministry of Finance that workers in core areas be direct government employees. This includes social workers, teachers, school nurses, hospital cleaners, etc. The Ministry of Finance is willing to hire workers directly, but is demanding that the Histadrut allow "management flexibility," which will enable managers to operate without fear of sanctions and strikes.

The parties have been conducting talks on the issue in recent weeks. No agreements have been achieved yet, despite Nissenkorn's remarks at last Thursday's Histadrut demonstration that "Kahlon's heart is with us." He also called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene in the matter, among other things due to Kahlon's problems in getting his ministry to act in the matter.

Speaking at the demonstration attended by thousands, Nissenkorn emphasized that the Histadrut had no intention of giving way. "Just like we raised the minimum wage and brought workers with disabilities to center stage, contract workers won't be at the bottom of the public agenda… The strike that will begin Wednesday will be a tough one, and will include the public services. Even if it's a long strike, we won't stop before we have brought about a change," he said.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 19, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

Avi Nissenkorn
Avi Nissenkorn
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