Ministries Reopen as Civil Service Strike Ends

Workers protest intention to stop Bank Yahav's monopoly over service to civil servants

Ministries, government offices and affiliated units will reopen today to the public after the civil servants union decided last night to halt labor disruptions.

The union relentde after the Finance Ministry announced yesterday that it was freezing the tender to privatizate Bank Yahav's financial services for three months. During this period, the treasury will hold negotiations with union representatives.

The union opposes the treasury's decision to publish a tender that would allow other banks to offer the services Bank Yahav already provides to civil servants, such as loans, and effectively take over these services from Yahav.

According to civil servants union head Ariel Yaakovi, civil service employees enjoy exemptions from fees and receive loans at preferred rates from Yahav, "and we fear transferring the services to other banks will deny workers these benefits."
Since Tuesday, civil servants had refused to receive the public or to answer phones. Citizens and residents had been unable to receive new passports or extend the validity of old ones or to take out identity cards. Bank Hapoalim holds a 50 percent stake in Yahav, while the state and the union each hold 25 percent.