Cabinet to Nix Bill That Could Solve Salary Dispute in Local Councils

Bills initiated by Hadash, Meretz MKs; MK Swaid: Local authorities are not priority of government.

The cabinet intends to oppose two bills that would attempt to solve the dispute over delays in the payment of salaries to 5,000 employess of local authorities and religious councils.

The cabinet plans to reject both bills, which were submitted by MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash) and MK Haim Oron (Meretz), thus preventing them from passing in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday.

According to the bills, the cabinet would transfer the money necessary for the salaries. The new legislation would prevent any confiscation of money and its transfer to banks, and ensure that it is used to pay workers.

The Knesset plenum will vote Wednesday in a preliminary hearing on Swaid's bill, which is also signed by other Hadash party members, including MK Mohammed Barakeh and MK Dov Khenin. However, the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs decided that coalition should oppose the bill, preventing the Knesset from accepting.

Swaid's bill calls for each local authority to open a separate bank account so the government can transfer money directly for salary payments, and not for any other purpose. The money in the account will not be liable to confiscation, but the labor court could confiscate it in order to pay workers' salaries. This way, local authority workers will receive their salary without being dependent upon the economic situation of the local authority.

MK Swaid said on Tuesday that, "I am shocked that the cabinet opposes the bill. We are talking about a technical fix that does not require extra investment of budgets. Apparently the local authorities' issue is not a priority of the government."

He also directly criticized the Labor party, and said that, "It appears that Labor is busy with internal affairs, and the lower classes and workers do not interest them." Swaid maintains that "there are workers that come to work, work, and do not receive a salary. This is an intolerable situation. It also greatly harms work ethics and the functioning of local authorities."

A similar bill proposed by Oron was discussed Tuesday in the Knesset Finance Committee, and was opposed by cabinet representatives. Despite the opposition, committee chairman MK Ya'akov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) said the panel would work to ensure legislation be passed on the matter before the Knesset's recess for Passover.