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The Histadrut labor federation is upping the pressure of a general bank sector strike. Yesterday it announced it was granting the Finance Ministry an extension through Monday for it to freeze implementation of the Bachar reforms, which will force the banks to divest of provident and mutual funds.

The treasury plans to submit the reforms to the Knesset for a vote immediately after the Passover vacation.

Histadrut administrative workers division chief Leon Morozovsky wrote yesterday to treasury director general Joseph Bachar, demanding that the treasury enter into negotiations regarding the impact of the reform on banking sector job security. Morozovsky further demanded that the treasury not submit the reform legislation before the conclusion of the talks.

Histadrut banking sector leader Zion Shema plans to convene the entire banking sector union on Monday in Tel Aviv to decide on its next job action.

Israel Discount Bank union chief Riki Bachar has proposed that the sector's 40,000 workers launch an unlimited strike until the treasury announces a freeze of the legislative process. The Histadrut, however, has proposed a short warning strike. Afterward, and only if no agreement is reached with the treasury, the labor organization would consider launching a longer strike.

The union claims the structural changes at the banks mandated by the Bachar reform will result in hundreds, if not thousands, of dismissals. The treasury disagrees, saying banks will be allowed to enter new fields of activity, like insurance and pensions, which may even lead to a hiring wave.