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The country's 80 state-run Employment Bureaus, including those that serve degree-holding job-seekers, were shut down yesterday and will remain closed "indefinitely," as the service's union went on strike with Histadrut approval.

Job-seekers will not be able to get referrals to workplaces and won't get approvals for unemployment compensation. Medical panels that serve as appeal boards for people who refuse work on grounds that they are unfit will also not meet.

Aharon Hutabeli, chairman of the union of employment bureau workers, said at the Tel Aviv meeting where the strike was declared, that there were three main reasons for the strike.

The first is that the Wisconsin plan will harm bureau workers, since the Wisconsin plan is run by outside, private contractors. The workers are demanding written guarantees that the plan's execution will not lead to firings from the employment bureaus.

The strike is also meant to protest the decision to change the organizational structure of the employment service, from "regions" to "districts," a move meant to reduce the number of senior management officials. The workers say that will narrow the opportunities for promotion.