The Histadrut labor federation asked the National Labor Court yesterday to order the Prime Minister's Office to fire 21 local authority heads who have withheld employee salaries for over two months.

According to the Histadrut, justification for the firings is stipulated in an agreement signed between the Histadrut and PMO Director General Raanan Dinur, Finance Ministry Director General Yoram Ariav and Interior Ministry Director General Ram Belnikov.

The agreement was signed following the recent strike in late March, and received validity from a court ruling. It stipulates that local authority heads who withhold the salaries of 25 percent or more of their employees for two months or more are to be fired.

The request was filed to the labor court after it was revealed that 27 local authorities, mostly from the Arab sector, had not paid May salaries to their employees. Twenty-one local authorities failed to pay April salaries, and a few still owe salaries from before then. In addition, 11 religious councils have failed to pay their employees May salaries, with two not having paid April salaries. Four other religious councils paid only partial May salaries.

The Histadrut has asked the court to resolve the problem of the failure of employers to deposit payments to pension funds, provident funds and employee education funds in breach of agreements.

"The objection of the Histadrut, over a period of years, to the introduction of recovery plans to the local authorities, and the steps it has taken to prevent the laying off of employees have lead to the difficult condition of some of the local authorities," Union of Local Authorities Chairman Adi Eldar said. "The Histadrut plays a substantial role in the withholding of salaries in weaker local authorities, and can blame no one but itself," Eldar added.