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The workers at the Postal Authority have declared an official industrial dispute, a legal prerequisite for starting some type of protest action, including a strike, after a two-week period.

The dispute centers around an agreement to allow the private company Aviv Shigur to increase its mass-circulation delivery business from a current NIS 10 million a year to NIS 40 million a year, in major competition with the state-owned postal monopoly.

"There is no way to check if the expansion of Aviv Shigur's activities has been reached, and stopped, at NIS 40 million a year," said Udi Chen, a member of the postal workers' committee.

The postal staffers also object to a government decision that will increase greater public-sector use of the Internet for transmitting certain notices to people. The postal workers said that although they did not object to this in principle, "as it means an improvement in public service, we will not approve [new] activities without reaching agreement on Postal Authority workers' rights first."

The authority was scheduled to be incorporated as a state-owned enterprise in January, but the move has been postponed in the absence of an agreement with the workers over their pensions. Half of the 4,670 postal staffers are covered by non-contributory state pensions.