Threatened Israeli Municipal Government Strike Averted

Union of Local Authorities reaches last-minute deal with treasury over workers' salaries.

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Social workers demonstrating in November 2015 in front of the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem.
Social workers demonstrating in November 2015 in front of the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem.Credit: Emil Salman

A strike threatened by local government authorities around the country on Wednesday was averted Tuesday after the Union of Local Authorities and the Finance Ministry came to an agreement on a new budgeting and wage pact. The strike threat was announced after the union refused to pay municipal workers a one-time grant for this year that had been provided for in an agreement reached between the Finance Ministry and the Histadrut labor federation in December.

The ministry and the Union of Local Authorities, which represents municipal governments around the country, reached an agreement that will provide for a one-time 2016 grant for municipal workers, to be financed by a number of government ministries, including the interior, education and social affairs ministries. A similar one-time grant for next year will be paid in February, rather than January. In addition, a cut that the Education Ministry imposed on local governments in connection with the funding of salaries for janitorial and secretarial staff at schools will be reduced by a third, to 100 million shekels (about $25 million) from 150 million shekels. For its part, the Union of Local Authorities has committed to increase the salaries by 7.5%.

In the coming months, the Union of Local Authorities has also committed to negotiate with the Histadrut over a possible 2% salary hike for some municipal employees in an effort to better the situation of the lowest paid municipal workers. In order to head off future labor disputes, the Union of Local Authorities will also be considered an indispensable party to future negotiations.