Union Chair Digs in Heels, Threatens to Strike Over Planned Cuts in Israel's Budget

Ofer Eini threatens a work freeze and labor sanctions if the Finance Ministry refuses to sit down at the negotiating table with the Histadrut labor federation.

Haim Bior
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

If the Finance Ministry does not enter into negotiations with the Histadrut labor federation over planned cuts in the state budget, the federation's chair said on Wednesday, strikes and labor sanctions are likely to follow.

Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini sent a letter on Wednesday to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, making his unwavering position crystal clear.

"We will use all the means at our disposal to protect the rights of workers and prevent harm to the working public and retirees," Eini wrote.

Eini said he decided to appeal to Netanyahu and Lapid because the government plans on presenting the budget proposal at the beginning of May, which is right around the corner, and that budget is likely to contain terrible news for both workers and retirees. Both groups "are already groaning under a heavy burden and represent the middle class and the lower class," Eini wrote.

The steps proposed in the new budget include salary cuts, weakening organized labor, increasing the burden on those who work and other unilateral acts, said Eini. These steps are being formulated right now and will be announced soon with all their harsh implications – "without conducting any negotiations with the Histadrut," said Eini.

Eini said the improvements in the working conditions for contract workers agreed to at the end of 2011 have still not been implemented completely, despite repeated warnings by the Histadrut. He said he feared this was a conscious policy of foot-dragging in an attempt to abandon the rights of weaker workers.

The government must immediately start negotiating with the Histadrut over a new collective bargaining agreement for public sector employees, as the present agreement, which was signed in October 2010, will end this summer.

Ofer Eini.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum