Israel Finance Ministry, Labor Federation Nearing Deal to End General Strike

Representatives of the parties are currently working out final legal wording of agreement, and a press conference is expected to take place later on Thursday.

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Significant steps forward were taken on Thursday in talks between the Finance Ministry and the Histadrut Labor Federation to end Israels general strike.

According to the agreement under discussion, a few thousand out of 300,000 contract workers will become state employees, whose salaries and social benefits will improve significantly. These positions will be offered up through tenders by the accountant general at the Finance Ministry.

A contract worker. Credit: Moti Milrod

In parallel, the number of inspectors that are meant to oversee the conditions of employment of the contract workers will increase by one hundred.

Representatives of the parties are currently working out the final legal wording of the agreement, and a press conference is expected to take place later on Thursday.
Talks began on Wednesday night at the office of National Labor Court President Nili Arad with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini, and the head of the Manufacturers association of Israel, but failed to yield an agreement, even after two extensions of an original 1 A.M. deadline for an outcome for the talks.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz at the National Labor Court, February 8, 2012. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The Histadrut demanded the state hire the subcontracted workers directly, especially the cleaning workers. Those who were not hired directly must receive the same wages, benefits and terms as the regular employees doing the same work, the labor federation insisted.

The Finance Ministry rejected the demands, saying it was willing to raise the subcontracted workers' wages by 20-25 percent and make sure their rights are maintained.

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