Peretz Threatens Partial Strike if IMI Employees Not Paid

Histadrut head meets FM in bid to secure salaries of 2,900 IMI employees who were not paid in September.

Acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert and Histadrut Labor Federation Chairman Amir Peretz met Sunday morning in an attempt to find a solution to the deep financial crisis plaguing the Israel Military Industries (IMI).

Because of the crisis, the IMI did not pay salaries to some 2,900 of its employees in September.

At the end of the meeting, Peretz threatened that if the Finance Ministry does not pay those salaries, the Histadrut will launch a partial strike. Olmert told Peretz that he had already promised the employees would be paid.

The Histadrut leadership will convene on Sunday to decide whether or not to issue the declaration of a labor dispute that is necessary to legally launch a strike. However, senior Histadrut officials emphasized they will not call a general strike, and will only consider striking certain parts of the public sector.

The labor dispute declaration, expected to take place Sunday, will probably address other Histadrut grievances with the Finance Ministry as well, including a government decision to slash pensions and the absence of a signature on collective wage agreements.

"Not paying salaries to IMI employees is a struggle of principles, and a threat to all of the workers in the economy," Peretz said last week. "If the government allows itself to delay paying people who work in a company under its ownership, it sets a bad example to the rest of the economy," he added.