Union Puts Public-sector Strike on Ice Until Meeting With New Minister

But the Interior Ministry is on strike, ostensibly to protest manpower crunch during summer rush

The public has been spared a strike by garbagemen and the post office. The strike planned by the Histadrut umbrella labor federation has been postponed, for the time being.

Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini advised the treasury's wages director, Eli Cohen, that the Histadrut would rescind its threat until he meets with incoming Finance Minister Roni Bar-On over new wage agreements for the public sector's 700,000 workers.
Another reason for the delay, the Histadrut says, is that the federation's assembly will meet next week in Tel Aviv after the Histadrut elections that took place in May.

A strike would apparently interfere with the assembly, as well as the attendance of government officials and employers who were invited to the event.

Yesterday was the last day of the two-week legally mandated cooling-off period after the Histadrut officially declared a labor dispute over the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement and wage increases in the public sector.

Since no progress had been made in the talks over a new agreement with the treasury, the Histadrut can legally declare a strike at any time.

The unions are demanding a wage increase of between 10 and 13 percent, while the treasury is refusing any raises.

Interior Ministry on strike

In other strike news, the Interior Ministry's 1,200 employees are on strike again today. All ministry branches will be closed until further notice.

Yesterday, the government employees union and the Histadrut rejected the call by the ministry's director general, Ram Belinkov, to end the strike.

The strike at the ministry means that workers are not issuing passports at the height of the vacation season. In addition, identity cards, birth and death certificates, and entry visas are not being issued.

The union is demanding an additional 150 workers for the summer rush, which is the official grounds for the strike. However, it seems that another major reason for the strike is the structural change expected at the ministry.