Foreign Ministry Staff Step Up Labor Sanctions

Staff stopped using diplomatic cables as part of labor dispute, which disrupted communications from diplomatic missions abroad to ministry’s offices in Jerusalem.

Foreign Ministry staff stepped up their labor sanctions Thursday when they stopped using diplomatic cables. The move disrupted communications from diplomatic missions abroad to the ministry’s offices in Jerusalem.

As the dispute enters its third week, ministry sources say the sticking points between the two sides include a claim by staff that the terms of employment of diplomats serving abroad have been adversely affected, and that the Foreign Ministry’s status has been diminished by the separate appointment of Yuval Steinitz as minister in charge of international relations.

The staff also contends that there have been delays in the promotion of some ministry staff, that appointment committees that don’t operate transparently, and that procedure for the appointment of some ambassadors and consuls has been improper.

The workers committee is also seeking to have the salaries of employees serving abroad negotiated rather than being set unilaterally by the Finance Ministry’s wage division. With respect to Steinitz’s international affairs portfolio, the committee is taking the position that the new entity is wasteful and unnecessary.

Up until now the sanctions have included a refusal to grant consular services to government ministries, and the refusal to provide diplomatic passports to cabinet members.

The workers committee is vowing further steps on the part of 1,200 ministry staff. A ministry spokesman acknowledged the sanctions, even calling the workers’ efforts “an important fight over the ministry’s place in the government and the conditions of service of diplomats, which has declined in recent years.”

Flash 90