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A number of workers from the Public Works Department (PWD) who are scheduled to be fired in next few weeks, will continue to receive their monthly salaries during all of 2004, even though they will not actually be working at all during the year, according to sources inside the ministries.

As a result of the cabinet decision of September 2003 to close the PWD - and create a new government company in its place - only 200 of the present 715 workers will transfer to the new firm, which will serve only as a staff headquarters, outsourcing all of the actual construction work to contractors.

The original plan was to fire all the remaining workers immediately, but as a result of the agreement with the Histadrut labor federation, no employees will be fired and instead they will be transfered to other ministries.

Nevertheless, according to these sources, there will still be several workers, in particular field workers, who will be impossible to transfer to other positions. These workers have no counterparts in other ministries, and will continue to receive their salaries until the end of 2004, even though there is no work available for them.

Most employees at the Public Works Department which is responsible, inter alia, for the country's road network, are economists, engineers and field workers. Several dozen were employed by personnel companies, mostly in secretarial jobs.