Israeli N.Y. Consulate Staff Protest Employment Terms

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The Israeli consulate in New York
The building in Manhattan housing Israel's New York consulate. Credit: Google Street View

About 250 local employees of the Israeli consulate in New York staged a public demonstration on Thursday in front of the consulate's offices in Manhattan to protest their employment terms.

The employees claim that the Israeli Foreign Ministry is holding up improvements in their employment terms that had been due to take effect shortly, but are being suspended until the ministry's own budget is increased. In response, the local staff, who are not part of the diplomatic corps assigned to the consulate from Israel, announced that they are resuming protest action.

For the first time ever, they took to the streets of New York, and the employees have also threatened that in the future they would go on a strike.

The workers' committee issued a statement claiming that the Foreign Ministry was seeking "to commit extortion on the backs of the workers," adding that the ministry is well aware of what it called the "disgraceful employment terms" that they are working under after being promised for months that the reform plan would be forthcoming shortly. "Now it turns out that we are pawns," the workers stated.

The committee called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene and obtain approval for the reform plan.

If the dispute accelerates into actual strike action at Israeli diplomatic missions around the world, shutting offices down, it would mainly affect visits by dignitaries and the provision of consular services, such as the issuing of passports to Israelis abroad. It would also affect the delivery of diplomatic mail and in New York would mean that Israel would not be represented on some United Nations committees.

In a statement to Haaretz on the matter in which he made reference to Israel's United Nations Ambassador Danny Danon, the Israeli Consul General in New York, Dani Dayan, said: "Unfortunately for me and my colleague Danny Danon, as the heads of missions in New York, we don't have the administrative means to resolve the problem. The solution lies in Jerusalem."

Dayan acknowledged that that the workers' committee had long been promised a resolution of the problem "which in New York is particularly serious."

Foreign Ministry sources told Haaretz that the planned hiring of 1,000 new employees could also not move forward without a budget increase. The workers' complaints, they said, should be directed at the civil service commission and the Finance Ministry.

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