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Only 2,000 workers have left the local government payroll since the signing of a November agreement calling for the dismissal of 5,000 employees.

Histadrut labor federation's administrative worker division chief Leon Morozovsky said yesterday that besides the layoffs, dozens of local authorities and municipalities hired 400-500 new staffers, including some 200 political appointees. As a result, the local government payroll shrank by 1,500 employees, he added.

The Finance Ministry, Histadrut and Union of Local Authorities signed a recovery plan in November that included the layoffs of 5,000 local government workers over a few months.

The treasury and ULA had hoped to send pink slips to as many as 8,000 of the country's 80,000 local government employees. According to local authority head estimates, the layoffs have reduced the overall budget deficit for local governments, which currently is NIS 2 billion, by 7-10 percent. Morozovsky claims the firings have had a much smaller impact on the recovery plan.

The sides, however, agree that the lower number of layoffs has impacted available credit to local government.

"I'm pleased that the number of redundancies in local government has been lower than agreed," Morozovsky said. "Mayors have had trouble paying the high price exacted by large-scale worker departures, which would hurt routine operations and service to residents of their jurisdictions."