Israeli Diplomats Protest Low Wages, Poor Working Conditions

Foreign ministry workers' committee members interrupt an annual ambassador conference wearing shirts with the slogan 'I am a poor diplomat.'

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The foreign ministry's workers' committee announced Monday that it has renewed its labor sanctions in protest of Israeli diplomats' low wages.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at an ambassadors conference in Jerusalem, Dec. 26, 2010.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

The committee's protest halted an annual ambassador conference, which started on Sunday.

The political debates in the conference were cancelled Monday morning and instead foreign ministry officials conducted talks on the ministry's working conditions. Workers' committee representatives arrived at the conference hall wearing shirts with the slogan "I am a poor diplomat" while blowing whistles.

Participants of the ambassador conference were planned to tour Haifa on Tuesday, but it is now unclear whether the visit will take place. Later on Monday, foreign ministry workers are to be notified about the sanctions.

In the past two months, the foreign ministry has been negotiating with the workers' committee about improving the wages and working condition of diplomats abroad. Foreign ministry diplomats are fighting to bring their salaries and working conditions in line with those of the defense forces and the intelligence community.

In August Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced serious obstacles as he traveled to Washington for a peace summit with Palestinian leaders, as the ministry's workers' committee instructed staff in Washington not to assist the prime minister during his visit.

Despite these sanctions, the prime minister's office was able to carry out the visit without the help of the embassy, as much of the logistics of this U.S-organized summit was taken care of by the White House.

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