Post Office Strike Settled - for Now

Haim Bior
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Jerusalem’s main post office branch.Credit: Emil Salman
Haim Bior

The general strike that shuttered post offices for four days was settled on Friday and postal services resumed immediately.

A short-term agreement was reached on a pact which bars postal employees from striking or disrupting postal operations for at least the next 60 days. During that period, the parties involved, the government-owned postal company, the finance and communications ministries, postal worker representatives and the Histadrut labor federation, are slated to attempt to reach a longer term pact on a recovery plan for the cash-strapped government company.

Over the past two years, the Israel Postal Company has lost 200 million shekels ($57.8 million) and there has been concern that if drastic measures are not taken, it could become insolvent. The agreement signed Friday provides that all 7,000 postal employees will have their salaries cut by 5% through the end of the year as a loan to the postal company. The step is expected to temporarily spare the post office payment of more than 40 million shekels. The Israel Postal Company will not reinstate overtime cuts that were imposed earlier this year, but it has agreed not to continue cuts in overtime pay from now on. The overtime pay cuts saved the post office 20 million shekels.

An official panel tasked with suggesting reforms at the postal company recommended last week that most postal fees that are subject to price supervision, be increased. It also suggested an expansion of the services the post offices provides in an effort to return the company to profitability by next year. A hearing is to be held shortly at which postal company management is expected to demand that the recommendations of the official panel be expanded substantially to give the post office additional flexibility, in part, so that it can cut expenses.

Postal company management, which is headed by CEO Haim Almoznino, is seeking to lay off 2,000 workers and reopen existing collective wage agreements with the postal staff. Up to now, however, the post office has come up against opposition from the workers’ committee over the staff reductions. For its part, the workers’ committee is pushing for voluntary departures on preferential terms. Worker representatives are also opposing any effort to reopen existing labor pacts.

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