Gov't Workers' Strike to Continue Today

Government offices, whose workers began sanctions yesterday, will remain closed to the public today, the civil servants union decided. The employees also do not plan to answer telephone calls.

The union's head warned yesterday evening that it was also considering sanctions at government hospitals.

Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson yesterday instructed the director-general of his ministry, Yossi Bachar, to personally intervene in order to bring an end to the sanctions.

This follows a disagreement over the way to solve the crisis, between the accountant general, Yaron Zelekha, and the treasury's wages director, Eli Cohen, which became apparent during the negotiations with the workers and led to a breakdown in negotiations.

Because of the sanctions, it will be impossible to obtain any new official documents including passports, ID cards and birth certificates, or to register property deals and get certification of mortgages.

The offices of the National Insurance Institute and the employment service will also be closed.

The head of the civil servants union, Ariel Yaakobi, said last night: "We would like to reach an agreement within a few hours, but if it is not attained, we have additional ammunition at our disposal."

He warned that union members were considering sactions at government hospitals and stopping the passage of imports and exports through customs.

The workers are protesting a decision to privatize Bank Yahav.