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All 120 branches of Israel Discount Bank and 63 branches of subsidiary Mercantile Discount Bank will be closed again today, as all 6,700 employees continue to strike.

Union chief Riki Bachar said yesterday that the employees opted to shut down banking operations after a surprising deadlock in talks on guarantees for worker rights after a projected privatization, on Monday.

The meeting between Bachar and the Finance Ministry team headed by Accountant General Yaron Zelekha had been called to sign a final agreement between the union and state privatization agency M.I. Holdings. The agreement was nearly completely drafted last week, and promised Discount workers a merger bonus of six months salary, worth NIS 250 million.

However, the treasury team demanded at the meeting that the bonus be paid over a period of time to be determined in later talks. There was also disagreement over a union demand that no Discount assets be sold for the next five years.

Mercantile Discount's staff declared a strike because no agreement has been signed guaranteeing salary terms after Discount Bank's privatization. The union has also demanded that Mercantile be sold separately from Israel Discount Bank, to guarantee the two banks won't be merged after the sale. They say that a merger would result in branch closures and hundreds of dismissals. The treasury has rejected this condition for the sale.