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The major banks' workers' committees are considering quitting the Histadrut labor federation and establishing a separate framework. Ricky Bachar, chair of the Israel Discount Bank workers' committee, deemed to be the driving force behind this move, said over the weekend, "We feel deprived within the Histadrut. We pay it membership fees and receive practically no services from it. We didn't succeed in transforming the Histadrut into a fighting machine, at least in the field of banking."

Bachar added that a factor in the bank committees thinking about leaving the Histadrut is the failure of their joint struggle, quietly supported by bank management, against the separation of the provident and mutual funds from the banks in line with the Bachar committee recommendations.

The bank workers division of the Histadrut's Clerk's Union represents the bank workers. The current situation does not authorize the bank workers' committees to decide on issues such as closing branches to the public or other kinds of work disruptions without approval from the Histadrut, which holds the power to declare work disputes.

Bachar denied that the initiative reflects disappointment in the appointment of trade union department head Ofer Eini to be Histadrut chair, effective next week.

"There's no personal motive here," he protested. "This period of transition of power at the top of the Histadrut is simply the right time to take this step."

Eini commented last night: "I haven't heard about this move, and in any event it doesn't make any sense. The Histadrut framework is preferable to the committees and various unions." He noted that "it's not the first time that a committee or a professional union has said it will leave the Histadrut.

"If I had a shekel every time this threat came up, I'd be rich by now," Eini said.

Clerks' Union chair Leon Morozovsky commented that he did know about the bank committees' initiative, and that he intends to meet with them soon "to convince them they were barking up the wrong tree, because it's forbidden to harm the power of the Histadrut."