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Ofer Eini, the leader of the Histadrut labor federation, will raise the topic of the minimum wage before a roundtable meeting of officials from government, the union and business. The forum will also discuss the 2011-2012 budget proposal presented this week by the Finance Ministry.

Eini called for the forum to meet after the Knesset rejected two bills yesterday proposing that the minimum wage be raised to NIS 4,600 a month, from NIS 3,850 at present, over a period of 15 months. Opponents argue that the upshot would be higher unemployment.

"The Histadrut supports raising the minimum wage," Eini said. But he added that when the topic first arose a month and a half ago, he had argued that the effective way to go about it wasn't unilateral legislation, but rather an agreement between government, business and labor.

"The bill's rejection just goes to show that the chance of passing a dramatic law like that, without prior consensus of the government and private employers, is remote," he said.

In recent years, under Eini's stewardship, the Histadrut has signed a number of agreements raising minimum wages in specific branches such as cleaning and maintenance, construction, security and printing, Eini said.

"Therefore, I see no reason why we can't reach a consensus about raising the minimum wage for all workers .... As soon as the roundtable reaches an agreement, we can bring a bill before the Knesset, and I believe it will pass."