Work Days Lost to Strikes Nearly Doubled in 2014

Economy Ministry says 103,553 work days lost due to strikes by workers; employee layoffs and cutbacks cited as primary cause for increase in labor action.

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Demonstration by striking Hadassah workers at entrance to Jerusalem, February 17, 2014.
Demonstration by striking Hadassah workers at entrance to Jerusalem, February 17, 2014.Credit: Emil Salman

Last year the economy lost 103,553 work days due to strikes by workers, nearly double the 52,274 days that strikes cost the economy in 2013, a report by the labor relations division at the Economy Ministry states. The year 2013, however, was unusually quiet on the labor front, and when compared with 2012, last year’s figures were not exceptional.

There were 26 full-blown strikes last year in Israel, according to the report, involving the participation of 38,808 employees. In 2013, by contrast, 25 full-on strikes involving 21,730 employees took place. In addition to outright strikes, in 2014, there were 25 cases of less extensive labor sanctions, involving 62,900 workers. In 2013, there were 28 such partial labor actions with 42,998 employees participating in them, the ministry report said.

The most common trigger for strikes last year was employee layoffs and cutbacks. Such moves led to 31% of the strikes. They went on disproportionately long, however, and were responsible for 65% of the lost work days. Another 19% of the strikes in 2014 were called over salary and worker benefit demands that employers did not meet, while a similar proportion resulted from failure to reach a collective labor agreement or over claims of violations of an existing work agreement. Another 12% of strikes broke out over management changes, privatization or outsourcing of workers.

In descending order, other grounds for strike action involved worsened employment terms, employer refusal to recognize a union organization, failure to pay salaries, hiring of employees without a public bidding process, and a decline in conditions on the job.

Industry figures reveal that 22% of the strikes arose in the public service; 19% in the education system; another 19% in the transportation and communications industries; 15% in the health system; 12% in the banking and insurance sector; and the rest in construction.

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