Histadrut Postpones Public Sector Strike

The chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, Ofer Eini, yesterday informed the treasury's wages director, Eli Cohen, that the Histadrut would not carry out its threat for a public sector general strike in the coming days.

According to Eini, the decision on whether to strike and when will only come after he meets with incoming Finance Minister Roni Bar-On over new wage agreements for the public sector's 700,000 workers.

Another reason for the delay, the Histadrut says, is that the federation's assembly will meet next week in Tel Aviv after the Histadrut elections that took place in May.

It seems that a strike would interfere with the assembly, as well as the attendance of government officials and employers who were invited to the event.

Yesterday was the last day of the two-week legally mandated cooling-off period after the Histadrut officially declared a labor dispute over the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement and wage increases in the public sector.

Since no progress had been made in the talks over a new agreement with the treasury, the Histadrut can legally declare a strike at any time.

The unions are demanding a wage increase of between 10 and 13 percent, while the treasury is refusing any raises.

In other strike news, the Interior Ministry's 1,200 employees are on strike again today. All ministry branches will be closed until further notice.

Yesterday, the government employees union and the Histadrut rejected the call by the ministry's director general, Ram Belinkov, to end the strike.

The strike at the ministry means that workers are not issuing passports at the height of the vacation season. In addition, identity cards, birth and death certificates, and entry visas are not being issued.

The union is demanding an additional 150 workers for the summer rush, which is the official explanation for the strike. However, it seems that another major reason for the strike is the structural change expected at the ministry.