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Some 20 percent of Bank of Israel workers will receive gross salary increases of up to thousands of shekels, following a decision yesterday by the bank's governor, David Klein. Raises will range from 7 percent to 15 percent.

Klein made the decision after failing to work out an agreement with the bank's workers' committee, which had demanded promotions for 31 percent of employees.

Klein said that he could not accept such a dramatic increase at a time when the Finance Ministry's wages director was seeking to lower salaries at the bank. "Because Bank of Israel salaries are among the highest in the civil service, we must demonstrate responsibility, restraint and sensitivity to the situation in the economy," he added.

Bank of Israel workers' committee chair Rafi Lankri railed against Klein's move, warning that "work relations at the Bank are about to worsen."