Labor Dispute Declared Over Wage Nonpayment at Cities, Religious Councils

Could lead to nationwide public-sector strike in two weeks

The Histadrut labor federation today declared a labor dispute that could theoretically led to a nationwide strike in two weeks.

The grounds for the dispute are nonpayment of salaries by some local authorities and religious councils.

The Coordination and Execution Committee, which encompasses all the leaders of all the guilds comprising the uber-union, agreed that a strike may commence after the mandatory two-week wait.

The decision pertains to 700,000 civil servants, including at the ministries, local authorities and government companies. Most private-sector employees will not be affected, since they do not belong to the Histadrut.

"I told the Finance Ministry that we could no longer sit by allowing the law to be trampled by dozens of local authorities and religious councils, which have been withholding salaries from workers for months on end, and don't pay social benefits according to the standard employment agreement," said Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini.

On Sunday the Histadrut Disciplinary Committee unanimously decided to depose all the members of the National Committee of Religious Council Workers, headed by David Mishali. The grounds for their ouster is their failure to cause the religious councils to pay their workers.

Twice the Committee had ordered the National Committee of Religious Council Workers to declare a dispute, ahead of a strike, and to suspend religious services including weddings and burials. But the National Committee of Religious Council Workers refused.