Court Orders State to Pay Employees

The Finance Ministry will assist the local authorities in paying employees their overdue salaries. The monies due will be deposited into the workers' bank accounts by next Thursday.

This was the decision reached by the National Labor Court yesterday. The decision was made by a three-judge panel, led by the court's president, Steve Adler.

The tribunal's decision ordered the Histadrut Labor Federation to stop the strike for a week. The head of the Histadrut, Ofer Eini, accepted the court's verdict and immediately ordered workers back to their jobs, despite having proclaimed a day earlier that he would negotiate with the Finance and Interior Ministries without halting the strike.

The court ruled that the state would provide funds, some tens of millions of shekels, to the local authorities - except for those defined by the court as "problematic," which include municipalities whose bank accounts have had liens placed on them.

Eini responded to the decision, saying, "A week-long time-out is critical to eradicate the occurrence of payroll violations. I hope that I will not be forced to renew the strike. I will not settle for less than a true solution for the wage debts. If the Finance and Interior Ministry officials relate to the crisis as they have until now, then the Histadrut will restart the strike," said Eini.

Other parts of the court decision include: intensive actions on the part of the state to find solutions for problematic authorities, religious councils and fire departments; and proposals for paying old debts to workers' retirement plans.

The state's teams dealing with these issues will be required to regularly update the Histadrut on their progress and recommendations.

On December 7, the director general of the Interior Ministry, the treasury's budgets director and the head of the Histadrut, will all appear before the National Labor Court to report on their progress.