Government workers are refusing to move to new Tel Aviv offices this January unless the government agrees to reimburse them for commuting time between where they are to park and the building.

Currently, government offices in Tel Aviv are scattered throughout the city. The government, therefore, decided to build a huge new office complex that would house all of the city's state offices. Construction of the building, located near the Defense Ministry and opposite the Azrieli Center, was recently completed, and all workers were supposed to move into it in January.

But the secretary of the Civil Servants Union for the Tel Aviv region, Eli Lahav, complained that the new building does not have enough parking spaces, and many workers would have to park far away. Therefore, he said, the workers prefer to remain in the old buildings - even though some are very poorly maintained - unless they are paid extra for the time it will take to get from wherever they park to the building.

"The ministries' managements suggested that some workers park their cars in the parking garage near Hashmonaim St., and from there, minibuses will transport the workers to the new building," Lahav said "But this raises a problem: The workers demand that the time that elapses from the moment they arrive at the parking garage on Hashmonaim St. until they arrive at the building via the minibuses be counted as work time, for which they will be paid."

However, he said, management rejects this demand.

Lahav said that workers also object to the fact that many of them will be working in closed cubicles with windows that do not open. "They are convinced that this is a recipe for catching diseases," he said.

This week, the Histadrut Labor Federation approved the Tel Aviv workers' request to declare a labor dispute. This means that after a two-week waiting period, which will end before the move to the new premises is slated to take place, the workers will be legally entitled to strike or otherwise disrupt the move.

"The employees' move to the new building will take place on time," the ministries' managements insisted in response. "The disputes with the workers are solvable."

The workers affected by the labor dispute include 850 employees of the Income Tax Authority who are now scattered among nine different locations in Tel Aviv, 100 Interior Ministry employees, 100 Housing Ministry employees, and 100 employees of the Justice Ministry's Land Registry (known as Tabu). The Tel Aviv office of the Government Employment Service is also considering moving to the new building, but a final decision has yet to be made.