Lull in Rockets From Gaza Causes Pay Delays in Israeli Town

Sderot municipal officials protest delay in pay, with the support of the mayor.

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Dozens of Sderot municipal employees blocked an entrance to the city Sunday to protest late salary payments. The workers declared a labor dispute against the municipality Wednesday and have not received the public since.

“For six months our salaries have not been paid in accordance with the law, and without pension [payments] or social benefits,” said Moradi Eliasi, the chairman of the employees’ union.

The salaries of the 230 city workers are paid days and sometimes weeks late, which makes it difficult for them to manage their finances, demonstrators said. In some households both spouses work for the municipality, leaving families with no income until the money lands.

“Every month it’s the same thing: I have checks bouncing and standing orders refused, and I risk having my account blocked,” said one demonstrator. “It can’t be that every month I have to beg the bank not to make me problems. What will it be with the fall holidays?”

In recent years the municipality has faced a deficit topping NIS 80 million, which Mayor David Buskila attributes to cuts in government balancing grants over the past four years due to the improved security situation in the south. Buskila called the workers’ sanctions and demonstration “totally justified.”

The Interior Ministry says the municipality is not sticking to its recovery plan and recently appointed a comptroller to help the city get a handle on its finances. The ministry said that at a meeting Sunday with city officials it agreed to “go beyond the letter of the law” and offer some budgetary relief to Sderot for the coming month. It said this was aimed in part at paying workers’ salaries.

Sderot city workers during a previous protest in August, 2013.Credit: Ilan Assayag