Histadrut: No Solution for Back Wages Problem Will Cause Another, Bigger Strike

"Failure to solve the problem of wage delays in the local authorities by this week constitutes a reason for a meeting of public sector committees to prepare for another strike, which will be more severe than the first one," said senior sources in the Histadrut labor union. They noted that the labor court did not issue an injunction against a strike during the most recent hearing.

Histadrut sources expressed disappointment with the rate of progress in the government's handling of the problem of local authorities' failure to pay salaries to religious councils and fire fighting services. The Histadrut says the state has also not addressed its demand to hold heads of municipalities and local authorities personally responsible for the failure to pay salaries or pensions, retirement or employees' professional training funds.

According to the Labor Court's decision of last Thursday, all delayed salaries in 29 local authorities not defined as financially 'problematic' are to be paid by tomorrow. In addition, the court ordered the state to draw up a solution to the problem of non-payment of wages in twelve additional authorities experiencing financial crisis. The state was also ordered to submit a draft solution that would ensure deposit of employees' social benefits in 80 authorities.

The court, presided by Judge Stephen Adler, is expected to hold hearings on Thursday and Saturday evening to receive a update on a resolution to the problem of withheld wages in local authorities. But the Histadrut will begin preparing for the possibility of another economy-wide strike, similar in scope to that held two weeks ago.

The Ministry of Interior has instructed the local authorities who have withheld payments to retirement or other funds to submit a detailed report within 21 days, specifying whether these have been deposited, and in what amounts.

The ministry has told heads of local authorities that any payment arrangements between the authorities and fund managers should be layed out in the report. The report is also to include the terms of any special arrangement, whether the authorities are meeting these terms, and if not, why.