Israel's Economy to Be Paralyzed if General Strike Opens as Planned

Proposed strike would cost the Israeli economy an estimated NIS 330 million a day; airports, banks, railway and all government offices would shut down.

Israel's main labor union is planning a strike that would shut airports, ports, banks and
the stock market starting on Monday, after talks with the government failed to produce an agreement over the status of workers employed through labor contractors.

The Histadrut Labour Federation, the umbrella organization for hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, said the strike would begin at 6 A.M. on Monday and would also include trains, buses, universities, government ministries and municipalities. Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv will close at 8:00 A.M. local time. The strike would last indefinitely.

eini - Haaretz - July 12 2011

"The strike will be unlimited and only a court injunction will prevent it," Ofer Eini, the head of the Histadrut, told Israel's Army Radio on Sunday.

Dozens of leaders from Israel's trade unions and dominant industries met Eini and Histadrut trade union division chair Avi Nissenkorn in Tel Aviv on Sunday ahead of the planned strike.

The Histadrut wants the government to hire some 250,000 contract workers, who have inferior working conditions than civil workers directly on government payrolls.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Histadrut to cancel the planned strike, which would wreak havoc on travelers and commuters.

"I believe it is possible to find a responsible and just solution for the issue of temporary laborers [supplied by employment agencies]," Netanyahu said on Army Radio.

"We must bring a solution that will not harm the Israeli economy at a time when there is a global shake-up in all the world's economies," he said. "There is no need to disrupt the lives of Israelis. We must not risk what we have achieved with much work."

Talks over the weekend failed to find an agreement, although Finance Ministry officials agreed that employment terms of contract workers need to improve.

Israel's labor court is expected to decide whether to issue an injunction against a strike later on Sunday.

A strike would cause some NIS 330 million damage a day to the economy.