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First International Bank of Israel workers will shut down some 20 branches in Gush Dan today, as the labor dispute that seemingly ended erupted again yesterday. The branches are located in Holon, Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv, and include the main branch.

FIBI union chair Hanoch Livneh, who ordered the closure, added that the bank's phone service would be shut down. Deposits earmarked to be transferred in December are also liable to be delayed, he said. Likewise, the union ordered clerks to avoid working overtime. Livneh claimed the reason for renewing the labor disruptions is the fact that "bank management reneged on agreements reached in negotiations with us."

Sources close to the talks said yesterday the main bone of contention had been agreed upon: paying a one-time bonus to each bank employee worth two-months' salary, in view of the bank's 2004 successes and after its merger with Bank Otsar Ha-hayal. However, the sides have yet to agree on management's right to make external appointments for key bank positions.

FIBI commented: "Management will make every effort to minimalize the damage caused to bank clients and will offer them maximal service as a result of the disruptions." The spokesperson added that the bank rejected as baseless all claims that management is dragging its feet with respect to negotiations.