Customs and VAT Strike Over - for Now

The two-week long partial strike by employees of the Customs and Value Added Tax division of the treasury is over, for now. The workers' union agreed to a request by Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini to end the work sanctions and enter negotiations. Yesterday Eini met with Finance Minister Roni Bar-On, and agreed to talks over the employees' demands with the treasury's director general, Yarom Ariav.

The workers also agreed to return to their jobs in the face of a lawsuit filed in the National Labor Court against the Histadrut and the treasury by the Manufacturers Association and Israel Chambers of Commerce to order workers back to work, due to the heavy losses caused to exporters and importers. The daily value of goods passing through the customs service is estimated at NIS 300 million. As part of the sanctions, trade with Egypt and Jordan were completely shut down, and thus goods - mostly fresh agricultural produce - were stuck at the border crossings. The workers are protesting a planned merger with the Income Tax Authority, and are afraid of job cuts. They also want more pay for additional work.