Histadrut Declares Public Sector Labor Dispute

Warning could mean nationwide strike in two weeks.

Yossi Zamir

The Histadrut labor federation formally declared a labor dispute Wednesday, which entitles it to call a strike in two weeks, after it said talks on a public sector wage agreement reached a dead end.

The dispute and possible strike encompasses all staff working for government ministries, civilian employees of the Israel Defense Forces, teachers, nurses, social workers and employees of local authorities, among others.

While the labor dispute could lead to a strike, unions frequently call them as a means of pressuring employers and they usually doesn’t end with workers walking off their jobs. The treasury, which is conducting the talks for the government, urged unions to return to negotiations.

“Declaring a dispute right now is unnecessary and reckless, especially as we have stressed over and over that dialogue and agreements will serve the public sectors and its workers best,” it said.

The two sides began talks several months ago, but they knew that no agreement would be signed until after the Knesset approved the 2016-17 budget, which it did last week. In the meantime, however, the sides have failed to reach even understandings in principle.

The negotiations began two and a half years after the previous contract for public sector workers expired. Civil servants have been working without a signed agreement since then.