The Sderot municipal employees’ union has declared an unlimited slowdown in protest at the municipality’s decision to carry out organizational changes. Union chairman Mordi Aliasi submitted a letter to Mayor Alon Davidi, informing him of industrial action due to detriment.
The union’s latest move was a response to the municipality’s decision to stop funding employee’s cellular phones, and hearings aimed at cutting extra hours.
“Recently the new management of the municipality carried out one-sided moves, and every time we wanted to declare a slowdown the Histadrut labor federation requested that we refrain from such a move and hold negotiations,” Aliasi told Haaretz on Sunday. “On Thursday we sent the employees letters informing them of the detriment without due discussions with the union, despite the mayor’s promise to coordinate all moves with us.”
The slowdown will close some services to residents, including answering telephones at the municipality, but kindergarten and school assistants will continue working as usual.
Davidi responded to the letter by writing that the union did not specify any reason for the slowdown, apart from cutting the funding of the cellular phones, “which was carried out at the demand of the municipality accountant. This step is at the discretion of the employer and does not amount to a violation of labor laws.”
The mayor added that the cuts were essential to guarantee the payment of December salaries. “The slowdown, which harms the residents at a critical time in terms of the security situation, seems to reflect your lack of will to take into consideration the best interests of the workers and the municipality, and one fears that you were motivated by extraneous considerations,” he wrote.
Sources in the union told Haaretz that the municipality had adopted a recovery plan that led to the sacking of 50 workers who were forced into early retirement.
“The mayor’s steps are opposed to the recovery plan. The mayor cannot continue harming the workers.” Aliasi said, and called on the government to intervene. “Even if we fire another 100 employees it won’t help us battle the huge deficit.”
The last strike by Sderot municipal workers was in August, after the 230 employees had not received their salaries for six months. Ever since Davidi was elected mayor, the municipality, together with an Interior Ministry accountant, has been trying to cut expenses and alter municipal conduct, which has led to a deficit of over 100 million shekels (some $26 million).