Histadrut Considers Another Strike as Talks Stall

The Histadrut is considering holding another general strike due to a stalemate in talks with the government over paying tens of thousands of local authority workers who have not received wages for months.

Histadrut representatives met treasury officials Monday after intervention by the National Labor Court Thursday. The court instructed the parties to call off the strike and begin swift negotiations to decide on a timetable for paying the workers' withheld wages and allocations for their pension, providence and study funds.

The court ruled that representatives from both sides report to the judges today and tomorrow over progress in negotiations.

Histadrut representatives and Finance Ministry Budgets Director Shaul Zemach met Monday to discuss the payments' timetable, but failed to reach an agreement.

The Labor Court judges, headed by Steve Adler, will decide tomorrow whether to allow the Histadrut to hold another strike, or instruct the sides to continue talking in an effort to reach a solution.

So far, the Histadrut and treasury have agreed only on the deductions to the various funds, not on the more critical issue of paying overdue wages.

The Galilee town of Arabeh has not paid its workers for 11 months, the longest period among all authorities. Baka-Jatt workers have not been paid for nine months, and Yarka employees have not received wages for eight months.

Tabouria and Taibe workers have been withheld for seven months, while Yesod Hama'ala workers have not been paid for six months. The workers in several other towns and communities have not been paid between a month and five and a half months.

Carmel City (Ir Hacarmel), consisting of the Druze villages Daliat al-Carmel and Isfiya, has not paid its workers for four months. The merged municipality's inherited deficit is NIS 200 million, and it cannot pay the salaries. In addition, the state has not been transferring its share of the budget over the past three years.

Mayor Dr. Akram Hassoun said that unless the treasury releases the funds owed to the town, the merged municipality will break apart.