Israel's Postal Strike Expands to Courthouses, Border Crossings

Three-week-old labor dispute remains unresolved, with employees objecting to recovery plan that involves layoffs.

Gil Cohen-Magen

Labor sanctions in support of striking Israel Post employees are expected to spread on Sunday. Postal service and Histadrut labor federation representatives are also scheduled to renew negotiations with the Finance Ministry, in an attempt to draft an agreed-on recovery plan for the nearly bankrupt mail service.

Courthouses are expected to be closed to the public, although court hearings will be held as scheduled.

Also, tax and customs officials at the border crossings with Jordan and Egypt will not be letting goods in and out of Israel, starting at 8 A.M.

Meanwhile, labor sanctions are ongoing at Health Ministry facilities, where employees are not offering public services and are not providing oversight for imported food and medication.

The Tax Authority has also been subject to sanctions. In addition, workers at the postal service and Transportation Ministry are not enabling members of the public to transfer car ownership, and post offices are not accepting payment of fines on behalf of the courts, the police or municipalities.

The postal service employees have been striking for three weeks now.

Two weeks ago, the Histadrut expanded the campaign to include employees at government ministries. Labor sanctions included shutting Ben-Gurion International Airport for three hours last week.

The postal service is in dire financial straits, and is expected to be out of cash within six months. Employees object to a recovery plan that includes layoffs.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid met with Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn and a host of other players on Thursday night, in an attempt to resolve the conflict.

The parties discussed recovery plans for the postal service.

At the meeting were Government Companies Authority head Uri Yogev, as well as the public sector union chairman and the head of the postal service union.

Nissenkorn objected to a layoff plan that includes 1,500 employees with more than five years’ seniority. He argued that these employees would be replaced with workers from contracting companies and weaker workers.

The parties did not find a solution to the crisis.

For Nissenkorn, the issue is a matter of principle, representing the Histadrut’s fight against subcontracted employees.

While he has threatened to turn the matter into a nationwide strike, sources speculate that he is actually likely to scale back the labor sanctions by the Rosh Hashanah holiday later this week, in order to minimize public anger.