First International Bank Mortgage Staff Threatens Strike

FIBI management says normal operations will be maintained at all branches and expressed regret over the strike threat.

A union representing some employees of the First International Bank of Israel, known locally as Beinleumi, is expected to step up its periodic labor sanctions shortly with a strike by staff members who handles mortgage loans.

The union’s work actions have had the backing of Israel’s umbrella trade union organization, the Histadrut labor federation. Four months ago the Histadrut declared a labor dispute at the request of the clerical workers' union. Employees at Bank Poaley Agudat Israel, a member of the FIBI group, is also undertaking work sanctions.

More senior FIBI employees, including managers and other employees with signature authority, who are represented by a separate trade union committee, are not part of the work dispute and are barred from joining their colleagues in their labor action. Members of this union did announce, however, that they will not replace striking workers and will not deal with mortgages so as not to undermine the labor sanctions.

The FIBI management said normal operations will be maintained at all branches and expressed regret over the strike threat. The bank added that the employees involved have excellent work conditions and get automatic raises.

Sources at the bank expressed concern over the prospect of a strike during negotiations over employees’ demands. They also said they were worried about the losses the labor action could cause.

The workers' primary demands are for additional staff to be hired to ease what they claim is a heavy work load, and a demand for a five-year extension of their collective bargaining agreement.

Moran Mayaan