Knesset C'tee to Vote on Compensating Absent Workers in the North

C'tee chair postpones vote by two hours after Labor, Pensioners join opposition in favor of draft resolution.

The Knesset House Committee is set to vote Tuesday on a draft resolution that would force the state to pay due salaries to employees in the north who have been unable to attend work as a result of the intensifying security situation with Lebanon.

The draft, proposed by MK Ami Ayalon (Labor), had garnered a majority support in the committee, mainly from members of the opposition.

Committee chairman Ruhama Avraham (Kadima) on Tuesday decided to postpone the vote, set for the morning, until the early afternoon after delegates from the Labor Party and Pensioners voiced support for the resolution, Israel Radio reported.

The resolution calls on the state to pay wages to employees unable to attend work because of the escalating conflict, and to compensate employers for the salaries and for any business losses resulting from the security situation. An initial agreement was to grant full July salaries to the employees.

Avraham came under fire from members of the opposition who accused her of politicizing the committee.

Coalition chairman Avigdor Itzhaki said in opposition to the draft that it would be more beneficial to decide on matters of compensation through negotiations with the Histadrut Labor Federation and businesses, rather than by establishing a law. Negotiations were to resume Tuesday afternoon.

The Finance Ministry agreed Monday to partly fund the salaries of employees who did not attend work upon instructions from the Israel Defense Forces' Home Front Command in a meeting between officials from the Finance and Industry Ministries, industrialists and employees. According to the agreement, business owners were to contribute to the finances.

Officials from the Finance Ministry, the Industry and Trade Ministry, and employees took part in the negotiations.

Manufacturers' Association president Shraga Brosh said Monday that "the compensation will be allotted in all areas that an order to go into bomb shelters was given" - along the Haifa-Tiberias line - for the days that these orders were given.

It is still not clear, he added, whether the compensation would be for the full month's salary, whether the government would pay for salaries in full or if business owners would be expected to contribute as well.