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The Histadrut labor federation decided yesterday to dismiss all members of the religious councils' national labor committee. This decision follows the failure of the battle by religious councils employees to rectify the ongoing non-payment of their wages.

This rare move was unanimously supported by the Histadrut's disciplinary committee, which consists of senior federation officials.

Employees of the religious councils, who have not been paid in several months, have asked their labor committee to initiate a strike and to suspend religious services such as burial and marriage licensing, in protest of the lack of payment - but they were twice refused. This refusal motivated the Histadrut's decision to dismiss the members.

The chairman of the clerical, administrative and service workers' association, Leon Morozovsky, who submitted to the Histadrut an official complaint against the religious councils' national labor committee, said yesterday: "The lack of mutual trust prevents cooperation with the labor committee, which should operate in the interest of the religious councils' employees. The religious councils are undergoing one of their most difficult periods, during which the wages of most of their employees are being held back for many months."

A member of the religious councils national labor committee expressed rage over the dismissal, declaring: "The committee is now between a rock and a hard place. The Histadrut has asked us to make sure that the religious services are suspended, but the rabbis have called upon us to ensure that the public receives these services as usual, since they are considered 'sacred work.' It is problematic to ask a religious person to prevent the burial of the dead, to prevent a couple from marrying or to refuse a restaurant a proper kosher certificate."