Banks, TASE to Strike This Morning

All banks are expected to be closed between 8 and 10 this morning, in a solidarity protest declared by the Histadrut labor federation against the "violence perpetrated by Mizrahi Bank's management against one of the members of the bank's workers committee."

All the banks' ATMs will be operating as usual.

In addition, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange will be closed for two hours this morning in similar support of the protest.

The strike is a response to an incident last Friday, when United Mizrahi Bank workers were on strike and a physical confrontation broke out between Shaul Shauli, a member of the bank's workers committee, and guards at the Jerusalem branch, as Shauli was visiting. The guards had received an instruction from Mizrahi management to keep Shauli away from the Jerusalem branch. Shauli says he had been touring branches to verify the strike was in full swing and that no staffers were working.

"I regard the act of force against Shauli in a very grave light," said Leon Morozovsky of the Histadrut, "because it happened when Mizrahi workers are conducting a campaign to ensure their rights as Tefahot bank merges with Mizrahi.

"The strike was declared," he continued, "so that management at Mizrahi and other banks will know that the health and safety of committee members doing their work must not be abused."

The Histadrut declared today's solidarity strike, despite the fact that Mizrahi's union does not belong to the labor federation. The show of support is expected to boost the position of Mizrahi workers in their campaign to improve bonuses upon their bank's merger with its mortgage subsidiary Tefahot, which took place earlier this month.

Meanwhile yesterday, the Mizrahi bank workers committee said that it would discipline any of its members that had been working Friday in contravention of the union's instructions, and that it was drawing up a list of managers who had threatened workers to break the strike. Mizrahi Bank said in response that it would prevent any harm coming to any worker taken to a disciplinary hearing, and called such hearings illegal.

Mizrahi CEO Eli Yones called on the bank workers not to support today's strike action "which essentially was suicidal" and contended that the Histadrut's concern was only because it recognized "Mizrahi as the great competitor in the coming years."