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Some 70 percent of all employees of Arab and Druze local authorities have yet to receive their August paychecks, according to a report prepared by the Histadrut labor federation.

The report, which was submitted to Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz yesterday, said that 3,600 workers in 24 Arab and Druze towns were not paid for August. A few of these towns have not paid their workers for a far longer period, with the worst offender seven months in arrears.

The report's author, Salah Sa'ad, said he had hoped the appointment of an Arab as the Interior Ministry's director general would improve the payment situation in Arab towns, but that has not happened.

Ministry Director General Oskar Abu Razek said the ministry is trying to ensure that all municipal workers are paid before the October holidays. "Many local authorities are experiencing liquidity problems not because of the Interior Ministry's policy, but because the banks are making it hard for them to obtain credit, and also because of the low level of [tax] collection in towns in the Arab sector," he added.

The Histadrut said that some 40 percent of the country's religious council workers - almost 400 people - also have not been paid for August.