The director of customs and VAT yesterday issued back-to-work orders to 90 customs employees stationed at border crossings with Egypt and Jordan. According to the orders, the employees also are required to carry out security checks, and therefore, their presence is considered essential.
Similar orders were not issued, however, to striking customs workers at the ports and airports, who renewed sanctions yesterday.
The treasury is considering issuing back-to-work orders next week to employees of all government offices who deal with the public.
Treasury officials said it is impossible to prolong the stoppage of certain services, such as tax collection, property registration, and ID card and passport issuance.
Customs workers undertook a deliberate go-slow strike at Ben-Gurion International Airport yesterday, inspecting the luggage of every incoming passenger, causing long lines and delays.
The workers said the slowdown would take place every day between 8 A.M. and 10 P.M. "until an agreement is reached on the restructuring of government offices." The airport's cargo employees also renewed sanctions, preventing the release of cargo arriving from abroad.
Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday lashed out at the Histadrut over the airport strike.
"We thought there was readiness on the part of the Histadrut to reach an agreement... I urge the Histadrut, if you want to strike against me or against the treasury, please, but what do you want from the citizens? Stop abusing them," he said.
Histadrut and treasury negotiation teams renewed talks yesterday aimed at reaching an agreement on the pension reforms crisis.
The customs workers' sanctions are part of a public sector strike which entered its 66th day yesterday.
Sanctions also continued at government ministries and affiliated offices, including the National Insurance Institute and the Employment Service offices, after talks between Civil Servants Union Chairman Ofer Eini and Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander collapsed last Friday and have not been renewed.
Netanyahu and Histadrut labor federation chief Amir Peretz are due to meet today for intensive talks in an attempt to end the labor sanctions. Histadrut sources said yesterday they do not expect much to come of the afternoon meeting, since the Shabbat will cut it short.
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