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The Histadrut labor federation on Tuesday asked a judge to stop the cash-strapped Sderot municipality from firing one-third of its staff on Passover eve.

"We will not allow firing workers, especially on Passover eve," said Arnon Bar-David, head of the Histadrut's maintenance and administration federation.

The Histadrut has asked the Be'er Sheva Regional Labor Court for an injunction against the 100 pending dismissals, claiming the Sderot municipality is refusing to negotiate with the workers' union to find ways to prevent or reduce the dismissals. Hundreds of Sderot workers are expected to attend a court hearing on Wednesday.

The pending dismissals - which would constitute one-third of the municipal staff - are part of the city's plan to close its NIS 70 million deficit.

Sderot Mayor David Buskila said that in view of the municipality's dire economic situation "there is no choice but to take drastic steps including dismissals. We outlined the main points of the plan to the workers' union."

He said he had considered reducing the number of dismissed workers as part of an alternative plan to be proposed by the union, "but the union refused to discuss alternatives."

Due to the security situation in the south, it is impossible to fire any workers from the social and psychological services, he said.

He said he reduced his own and senior officials' wages by five percent.

Histadrut attorney Elad Morag noted that in addition to slashing employees' wages, the municipality has also stopped paying some of its workers for overtime and is employing other workers on Friday without pay, he said.

Despite the planned dismissals, the Sderot municipality has hired 16 workers and six inspectors, and has contracted with an external plumbing contractor for work that could have been done by existing workers, the Histadrut told the court.