Netanyahu, ULA
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a meeting with heads of the Union of Local Authorities, Jerusalem, Jan. 15, 2012. Photo by Moshe Milner
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The Union of Local Authorities announced Sunday night that it would go ahead with a general strike planned for Monday, despite efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to convince it otherwise.

Netanyahu met earlier Sunday night with heads of the ULA at his office in Jerusalem. During the meeting he told the ULA representatives that "now is not the time to shake up the economy with a general strike. It would harm citizens over matters that could be solved in a short time."

Following the meeting, the ULA said that the prime minster failed to offer solutions to the claims that were made during the meeting regarding harms facing the income of local authorities, and sufficed with instructing the director general of the Prime Minister's Office, attorney Harel Locker, to hold discussions with the ULA.

Many local authorities are in serious financial straits and are operating under the terms of financial recovery plans. Every year, the ULA complains that the state is not adequately funding local municipal operations. ULA chairman Shlomo Buhbut sought an all-out strike by the local authorities unless there were new developments.

"We are in the same boat," Netanyahu said, "and you don't need to pay the price of populist legislation. I oppose this irresponsible legislation. It is important that we continue behaving with economic responsibility and not scatter money mindlessly. If the economy crashes, the citizens will pay the price."

At the end of Sunday's meeting, Netanyahu told Locker to hold discussions with the ULA head to discuss the possibility of subsidizing water for citizens and the source of financing for discounted city taxes, among other issues that were raised at the meeting. In addition, it was concluded on the spot that a forum would be established for joint discussion between director-generals of the PMO, the Finance Ministry, Interior Ministry and the ULA.

If the strike goes ahead, garbage will not be collected (at least in locations where it is carried out by municipal employees), the staff of local authorities will not meet the public, and social welfare services will not be provided.

The ULA says it has called on teachers employed by the local authorities not to show up for work, but the Israel Teachers Union has stated that the teachers will be working. Security guards would be ordered not to report to work, however, including those working for privatized firms. It is also expected to affect transportation for children attending special education and maintenance workers.

Read this article in Hebrew.