Histadrut, treasury resume efforts to end strike
Representatives of the Histadrut labor federation and the treasury were meeting Saturday evening, in the wake of Friday's collapse of the latest talks aimed at ending the work sanctions of the past two months. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Histadrut chairman Amir Peretz joined the talks at 10 P.M.
Meanwhile, workers at the religious councils attached to each municipality were set to begin their own strike action Sunday, Israel Radio reported, citing a failure to provide their salaries for the past two months as the motivation for the action.
Army Radio on Saturday said that minister at the treasury Meir Sheetrit had expressed optimism that the talks would result in an agreement to bring an end to the public sector strikes, which were sparked by the treasury's proposed structural changes to government offices and pension fund reforms.
Sources at the talks Friday, which also included Netanyahu and Peretz, had reported that the meeting was conducted in a positive atmosphere.
Earlier Friday, Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander criticized a Labor Court decision to issue back-to-work orders for striking workers at Israel's land crossings.
"Issuing restraining orders will not solve the problem of sanctions," Hollander told Israel Radio. "A deal should be brokered with the civil servants."
The court orders were issued Thursday to 100 customs employees at the border crossings with Egypt and Jordan. Similar orders were not issued, however, to striking customs workers at the sea and air ports.
At Ben-Gurion International Airport, customs workers were on a deliberate go-slow, inspecting the luggage of each and every incoming passenger, causing long lines and delays.
The workers said the slow-down 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.